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Live goes digital—and why phones aren’t the enemy

As research reveals how digital dominates event discovery and sharing, should promoters embrace the "invaluable brand promotion" of the much-maligned phone-filmer?

By Jon Chapple on 14 Jun 2016

Smartphone at concert, live goes digital, MIDiA Research 'Decoding the Live Event Consumer'

One of the 87% of concertgoers who use their phone to take photos at shows

Nearly every aspect of discovering and attending a live event – bar, of course, the event itself – is now chiefly a digital one, with the finding of events, ticket purchase and the sharing of experiences with friends all primarily driven by digital channels.

That’s the conclusion of Decoding the Live Event Consumer, a new report by Mark Mulligan’s MIDiA Research which analysed the findings of a See Tickets/Schlesinger Associates survey of US consumers to deliver a comprehensive overview of the buying, discovery and sharing habits of eventgoers in 2015.

Advertising is, unsurprisingly, still the main way promoters get the word out about their events, with 78% of respondees saying they’d heard about a concert or other live event via a TV, radio, print or online ad. Online is by far the most heavily relied-upon platform – 63% found out about an event through an internet advertisement – with local radio in a distant second, at 14%.

However, social media – Facebook is by far the most popular – has leapfrogged recommendations from family and friends to make it to second place (58%, compared to the latter’s 57%), with mail from a band/sports team or festival in third (46%) and mail from ticketing companies and browsing a venue’s website in joint fifth (both 39%).

Online is by far the most heavily relied-upon platform for event discovery – and social media is now in second place

When it comes to buying, “search is the first step”, says the report, with half of eventgoers heading straight to a search engine to find out more about an event after they first hear about it.

While 57% ask others if they want to go before they buy tickets, a more impulsive 35% buy more than one ticket immediately without a clear idea of who they’ll take.

Over half of respondees said they compare ticket prices on price comparison sites, with 61% eventually buying tickets from ticketing companies’ websites and 58% from venues’ sites.

The tickets themselves are also becoming increasingly digital: 39% of eventgoers print e-tickets, and 29% use them as-is on their smartphones. Over half of physical ticketholders, however, keep them as a memento “for at least five years”.

Attitudes towards smartphones – “once seen as the bane of live events, and even viewed as threats to copyright and other intellectual property”, says MIDiA – are apparently changing, with 87% of live eventgoers using their phones to take photos and over half (55%) to shoot videos. “Creating a digital record of being at an event is now a default consumer experience,” says the report. “It is the digital extension of being physically present and watching a live music performance.”

“Creating a digital record of being at an event is now a default consumer experience. It is the digital extension of being physically present and watching a live music performance”

Seventy-six out of every 100 eventgoers post photos or other content on social media when at concerts and other events, and 65% use social notifications to let people know they are attending. The figure of 76% is higher among younger audiences and vice versa: under-36s are most likely to post (84%), compared to 64% of those over 36.

MIDiA offers a number of recommendations for marketing and selling live events to digitally native consumers, “especially millennials who have grown up on social media and instant access to services”, including:

  • Acceptance and mastery of social media is key
    “The use of smartphones in events is an invaluable form of brand promotion and can be leveraged to build engaged future attendee lists through tactics such as image competitions on social platforms”
  • Eventgoers want fair pricing
    “Though 55% of eventgoers will buy tickets immediately upon learning of a new event, only a minority will pay over the face value for a ticket”
  • Physical tickets have intrinsic emotional value
    “Older eventgoers are more likely to immediately throw out a ticket than millennials. This taps into the millennial consumer’s fascination with physical in the age”

The report can be purchased in full from the MiDIA Research website.


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