Why SeatGeek increased its influencer marketing 60% year over year

SeatGeek is betting on influencers. The ticketing company has increased its media spend on influencers year over year by 60%.

The push into influencer marketing comes as the company has also upped its spend on paid social channels 96% year over year, specifically on Instagram and Snapchat. In 2018, the influencers and paid social made up 45% of the company’s ad spending. (SeatGeek declined to break out how much was spent on influencers and how much was spent on paid social in 2018.)

“We definitely spend pretty aggressively in search, as you can imagine,. In ticketing, a lot of people start their shopping experience by typing into a search bar,” said SeatGeek CMO, Jenn Ogden-Reese. “But we’ve also seen a lot of value in endorser marketing, and that’s where our audio and influencer marketing has come into play. … We definitely cite influencer marketing as a big area of increased investment.”

To be clear, SeatGeek considers audio to be a separate channel from influencer marketing. The company declined to share how much it is investing in audio but did say the channel has consistently been one of the company’s five largest paid channels in recent years.

In 2018, SeatGeek spent $11.8 million in media, up from $5.9 million in 2017, per Kantar Media. In the first quarter of 2019, the company spent $1.8 million.

The increase in influencer marketing is part of the company’s strategy to differentiate the brand as it competes with Stubhub, Ticketmaster and others. By using influencers, SeatGeek is aiming to woo consumers with its “fans first” focus and to create an emotional connection with consumers, which can be harder to do with just performance marketing, said Ogden-Reese.

Over the past three years, SeatGeek has worked with over 1,000 influencers including Alex Morgan, David Dobrik, Olivia Culpo and Brad Mondo. The company works with influencers to help them create content from an experience where they would need a ticket, like taking a parent to the World Series or going to a concert.

With Dobrik, the company has sponsored a number of videos where he surprises his friends with new cars. With influencers in general, specifically YouTubers, the company will typically offer tickets to an influencer which are then the impetus for the content they create. For example, YouTuber Jesse Wellens surprised his father with Super Bowl tickets. The resulting video generated over 864,000 views. As of February 2018, the company has worked with influencers to create more than 1,500 videos that have gotten more than 125 million organic views, according to a company video on the strategy. 

“Influencers are all about creating relevant content for their audiences as they’re very passionate audiences,” said Ogden-Reese. “It’s worked really well in terms of our ability to really help them experience more live, which aligns with our mission and share that experience with their audiences then. Their audiences are very loyal and passionate. It’s been a really compelling way for us to grow our brand, our business.”

Currently, the company is running a campaign focused on Major League Soccer, specifically highlighting female fans of the sport.

Using influencer marketing can help the brand grow through word of mouth, said brand consultant and Metaforce co-founder Allen Adamson, adding that ticketing is a cluttered market and competitors like Stubhub likely have deeper pockets to win consumers’ attention.

“Influencer marketing allows SeatGeek to target their message to a specific consumer archetype rather than using broad strokes — the Indy 500 fan is likely very different than the Lady Gaga fan,” wrote Katy Wellhousen, account director at RQ, in an email.

SeatGeek uses direct traffic, promo-code redemptions and post-purchase surveys to track the success of its influencer marketing as well as its investment in podcasts. The company declined to share its download and redemption rates but said that it sees “a really strong redemption rate driven by the loyalty of their massive audience that many of the podcasts and YouTube videos have.”

Still, influencer marketing has come under fire over the last year with marketers frustrated by fraud. Last month, Digiday reported the launch of an Influencer Marketing Council which will work to standardize the market.

Historically, the company was focused on paid search and paid social and those are still key. “All of our marketing is very mobile-first because we’re all about getting people to download our app,” said Ogden-Reese.

While SeatGeek is also increasing paid social, the company has also been testing television, linear and OTT. The company declined to share results of its TV work but did say it will likely run TV work again later this year. The company is also using what it calls “market saturation,” i.e., running media across out-of-home, TV, audio and more in cities like Boston and Washington, D.C., as it explores more a more “full funnel” strategy, said Ogden-Reese.


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