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Digital giants test the ticketing business

Facebook and Amazon announce tentative steps to enter sector.

By IQ on 17 Dec 2015

image © Amazon

The international ticketing business could be in line for a major shake-up as both social media conglomerate Facebook and online retailer Amazon have announced tentative steps to enter this highly competitive sector.

On the face of it, Facebook says it is not actually going to sell tickets itself, but is allowing partners to use its services to market events and tours. Amazon, on the other hand, is ramping up its ticketing activities through the creation of the Amazon Tickets destination on its UK platform, building on earlier initiatives in the theatrical and live events industries. It is also boasting prices that are inclusive of all booking fees and charges, with no hidden extras at checkout.

“Amazon seems to view ticketing as a tool for customer retention and acquisition, rather than a business in which it wants to make money.”

“At the highest management level, Facebook is publicly stating that being in the ticketing business is not an ambition,” ticketing industry consultant Tim Chambers tells IQ. “What they are doing is enabling clients to use the common Facebook platform to encourage ticket sales and reach out to Facebook users.”

Turning to Amazon’s strategy, Chambers believes existing ticketing agencies could be concerned by the online retailer’s game plan. “Amazon’s approach is much more proactive and interventionist,” he observes. “Amazon did the official pre-sales for Take That at British Summertime next year and have engaged a third-party agency to source inventory for Amazon Tickets.”

Rumours abound that Amazon has also negotiated agreements for distressed ticketing inventory with at least one major promoter, as it bids to offer its customers enticing deals. Chambers adds, “Certainly, when it comes to Facebook and Amazon’s ticketing aspirations, if I were a ticketing retailer I’d be a lot more concerned by the latter at the moment. Amazon seems to view ticketing as a tool for customer retention and acquisition, rather than a business in which it wants to make money. But the thing about Amazon is that of the thousands of people, say, in the Bristol postcode who bought Adele tickets, Amazon knows exactly who they are and what they buy culturally, making it relatively easy for them to send the ‘if you liked this, you may also like this’ offers.”