How Important Is Customer Data?
The Case of Amazon vs. Ticketmaster

Last month, the rest of the world learned through news reports what many of us in the ticketing industry had been aware of for a while — that has designs on selling tickets. Tickets are the ultimate digital product because you don’t need a warehouse to provide the product, which makes it an ideal target for Amazon. The entrenched commercial ticketing industry is led by Ticketmaster, which last year earned almost $2 billion selling tickets largely on behalf of commercial venues and promoters.

My thesis for the past decade has been that today, ticketing companies can’t just provide technology for venues to sell tickets. That gets you in the game, but it doesn’t win the game. Ticketing companies now must provide ways for the sellers of tickets to amass a rich, robust database of buyers from which they can build relationships. That’s the essence of CRM and what has guided us to build PatronManager for the arts community.

Ticketmaster has built its own database of hundreds of millions of ticket buyers, and it markets events to these buyers in a highly targeted way (the company uses the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to power these efforts). That’s its approach.

Now think about Amazon’s approach. It’s pretty much the same — marketing directly to consumers on behalf of Amazon and its selling partners. This company, too, has a rich database of millions of buyers as well as an incredible ability to segment and market. With technology and a big customer database, Amazon has been displacing nearly every brick-and-mortar retailer in the world.

So, in its quest to get into the ticketing business, Amazon apparently tried to forge a deal with Ticketmaster that ultimately failed. According to a recent article in Forbes:

Amazon has failed to close a deal with Ticketmaster because they can’t agree on who would control customer data.

This is worthy of significant attention. Amazon tries to partner with the giant of the ticketing industry in order to enter said industry, and what stands in the way? Customer data.

Yes, it is customer data that’s the currency of every Internet marketer. Without it, you’re shooting in the dark. With it, you could build an Amazon or a Ticketmaster!

This brings us full circle to what arts organizations can learn from this. If Ticketmaster and Amazon are in a tug-of-war over customer data, that should be a significant reminder that building your customer database with a full-fledged CRM capability to dissect, analyze, and target your customers should be an important priority for your organization.

The good news is that as the world of commerce becomes more and more digital-based, you’ll be increasingly able to collect more and more of your patrons’ data. Let’s use the battle between Amazon and Ticketmaster as our motivation to always remember that it’s the customer relationship that matters most.

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