Ticket Resellers Take Sponsorships Back To School
IEG Sponsorship Report - www.Sponsorship.com
by: William Chipps
10/18/10: While college sports have long been of interest to marketers looking to reach students and alumni, the sector has recently drawn marked attention from the secondary ticket seller category.
Two of the industry’s most currently active sponsors—StubHub, Inc. and TicketCity.com Inc.—have signed a handful of deals with college athletic departments over the past few months to build visibility in front of season ticket holders and other fans.
That interest is driven largely by economics.
“College football is our primary revenue generator, followed by the NFL, so it makes sense to be in those places,” said Amy Carpenter, TicketCity.com’s vice president of marketing.
The sentiment is echoed by StubHub. “We have experienced strong year-over-year growth in college sports, which makes it an attractive area to invest sponsorship dollars,” said Greg Ivry, a StubHub business development associate.
StubHub this month announced a new partnership with the University of Florida, a deal which follows first-time ties over the past six months with The Florida State University; The University of Georgia, the University of Miami and Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). The company has deals with 19 NCAA-related programs overall.
Meanwhile, TicketCity recently struck deals with Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology) and TCU, adding to a portfolio that includes Baylor University; Mississippi State
University; Oklahoma State University; Rice University; University of California, Berkeley;
Vanderbilt University; Washington State University; the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl;
Beef O’Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg; Birmingham Bowl; MAACO Bowl Las Vegas; New Mexico Bowl; and Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The company also recently signed new deals with the NFL St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
Below, IEG SR offers sponsorship snapshots of TicketCity.com and StubHub, including the reasons why they sponsor and how they activate ties.
TicketCity: Sponsors To Engage Fans, Support Reputation
The 20-year-old, privately held company launched its sponsorship initiative last year with three primary objectives: build visibility, engage fans and support its reputation as a credible source of tickets.
“There are a lot of competitors out there, but we’ve been around for twenty years. We want people to know that we are a trusted source for tickets,” Carpenter said.
TicketCity accomplishes that task by interacting with fans at sponsored events. “We’re very much known for our customer service, which is a point of differentiation,” Carpenter added. “We bring staff to events to interact with attendees, educate people about our service and demonstrate our dedication to the business.”
The education piece includes informing consumers about TicketCity’s various product offerings, Carpenter said. “People may use our service to buy college football tickets, but they might not realize the other events we have.”
Although the company has used sponsorship for a relatively short time, it already has learned the importance of activation. “We have put more focus on sponsorship elements that let us interact and engage fans,” Carpenter said. “As a result, we are making more of an investment beyond the cost of a sponsorship.”
The company frequently activates with best-seats-in-the-house promotions, said Carpenter, who also look for exposure in email blasts, on property Web sites and mailing inserts in season ticket packages.
TicketCity also uses its partnerships with the Rams and 49ers to create and offer fan travel packages through a partnership with Champion Sports Tours.
The company takes a long-term view when measuring success. “We realize we won’t receive immediate ROI from a sponsored event because everyone already has a ticket. We look for longer term ROI by tracking Web site visits and client feedback,” Carpenter said.
The company plans to sponsor properties outside the collegiate and pro sports space within the next several years, she added.
“We are definitely looking at concerts and other types of live events in the coming years.”
StubHub: Emphasizes Assets For Loyalty Programs
While TicketCity is relatively new to sponsorship, StubHub has actively used sponsorship for more than five years, originally as a platform to build visibility and then to gain a larger share of ticket resale activity.
“We want as many sellers as possible to list tickets,” Ivry said. “That leads to a more competitive marketplace and the fairest and most competitive pricing for fans.”
A new focus for the eBay Inc. unit: hospitality benefits and other perks that can be used to reward frequent customers. That includes access to tailgating events, premium merchandise and venue tours.
“We are developing more hospitality programs to give back and enhance the experience for our buyers,” Ivry said.
Like TicketCity, StubHub frequently activates with seat upgrade promotions. It also looks for a presence on team Web sites and other online inventory. “Being an ecommerce company, online assets are important,” Ivry said.
StubHub also serves as the “official fan to fan ticket marketplace” for MLB.com through a partnership with MLB Advanced Media. In addition, the company also has official sponsorship deals with MLB and 23 of the league’s 30 clubs, including the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.
Although StubHub does not currently have any sponsorships outside the sports space, the company has sponsored music and other entertainment platforms in the past and is interested in doing more.
“We plan to expand in the music and entertainment realm,” said Ivry, noting there are some deals in the hopper.
StubHub, Inc., 415/222-8400
TicketCity.com Inc., Tel: 512/472-5797