Bye-bye Squiggly Lines

Every day I hear from fans about how much they dislike CAPTCHA (those squiggly lines at checkout). CAPTCHA is one of the things we do to get as many tickets as possible to fans who want to go to the show versus people whose only intent for purchasing is to resell for an astronomical profit. While the current CAPTCHA solution is effective in helping us identify and slow down BOTS (for more info on what BOTS are and what we do to fight them, check out this blog post) that unfairly cut the line, and swoop up some of the best seats to popular shows, it isn’t a great fan experience.

I could not be more excited to share with you today that we are dramatically improving this for you, on both Ticketmaster.com and our Ticketmaster mobile App for iPhone (and coming soon to the Android App).  For the past year we have worked and searched for a better, more fan-friendly solution that still is secure and harder for BOTS.

In the Ticketmaster App for mobile, CAPTCHA is going away, poof! When you install the Ticketmaster App, you will be asked to enable “Push Notifications” and once enabled, our system will automatically work with your device to authenticate that you are a fan so you can purchase straight away.

There are also great new companies popping up that are working to develop innovative ways to address the problem online. We are delighted to share that we have implemented something new with Solve Media, a hot New York start up. Solve Media has great, innovative underlying technology that works to predict if you are a person or BOT.

If you are identified as a real person, you will have to type in real words or in some cases, a phrase from an ad presented to you by Solve Media. This won’t redirect you any place and your information isn’t going to be shared with anyone, the Solve Media solution simply offers our fans a better experience and will make it harder for BOTS used by scalpers.

We will continue to refine our ticket buying process to make it better for real fans and harder for BOTS, in the meantime, give it a try and let us know what you think, email us at fanvoices@ticketmaster.com

Thanks for being a fan!

Our interactive seat maps integrated with Facebook

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past year on two big ongoing goals:

One, obsess about the fan experience. Continue to innovate around all aspects of attending live events.

Two, make buying tickets more social. We want to continue to make shopping through our sites the most social eCommerce experience on the web.

One of our big efforts has been the development and rollout of our interactive seat maps. We now have more than 9,000 events on our sites with this new technology and we’ve learned a lot talking directly to consumers about how it’s impacted their purchase experience. One thing jumped out early on: people were buying tickets they would not have otherwise purchased because they could select seats near where friends or family were already sitting. Which got us thinking, that must take a fair amount of coordination – how can we make it easier?

At the same time we’ve also been busy weaving Facebook connections into various points of the ticket buying process and have had a ton of usage and adoption. Seventy-five percent of our traffic on Ticketmaster.com uses Facebook and we’ve seen great results with fans sharing their likes, recommendations and the events they are attending with their Facebook friends.

The combination of all of this has led to our latest product launch: the ability for buyers and event attendees to now have the option to share their seat location with their Facebook friends or even the entire Facebook community (if they choose) directly on the interactive maps on Ticketmaster.com and Livenation.com.

We know the best products come from listening to your customers, and we have a lot more in the works, but we’re especially excited to bring you this one. Click the video to see how it works or better yet, if you’ve bought recently from one of our interactive maps, go back and tag your seats. And as always, let us know what you think.

Thank You For Standing By Your Friends

Because of your generosity, Ticketmaster collected $223,870 for the American Red Cross to benefit Japan’s earthquake and tsunami victims. On March 22nd of this year, we invited you to consider donating to the Red Cross through Ticketmaster.com, Livenation.com, or by selecting an optional $5 donation during checkout. More than 40,000 of you donated and 100% of your donations went directly to the American Red Cross.

We are humbled that so many fans joined us in contributing to the aid of the victims in Japan. It was a privilege to leverage our eCommerce resources to help the Red Cross raise almost a quarter of a million dollars for the victims of this triple tragedy. On behalf of the entire Ticketmaster family, thank you.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

We’re happy to announce that you can now choose your exact seats for most Major League Baseball games on Ticketmaster.com. We’ve added our new Interactive Seat Maps to America’s favorite pastime!

Due to the size of these stadiums (usually around 50,000 seats), this was no small undertaking–but well worth the effort. As you can see by the examples below, there’s now no better to way to find the best seats you want at most of our MLB clients’ ballparks. Check it out and as always, let us know what you think.

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Dodgers vs. Giants

Angels vs. Rangers

Braves vs. Phillies

“My Cart” Will Change the Way You Shop for Tickets

Does this sound familiar?

You find the event you’re dying to see on any ticketing site, search for the perfect tickets, select them … then leave the site (and lose your progress) to coordinate with friends and family.

What if you could stash your seat selections in a shopping cart so you wouldn’t have to start from scratch when you came back? Now you can. With the all-new My Cart that launched this week on Ticketmaster.com and Livenation.com, you can pick up right where you left off – without having to find your way back to the event and select the same tickets all over again.

And although we can’t hold the seats, if they’re still available when you return you can jump back into the buy process with one click. If they aren’t available we’ll check for comparable seats and grab those! And if nothing like them is left, we’ll take you back to the event page so you can search again immediately.

My Cart is also an excellent way to compare tickets across different event dates. Just put them all in your cart to comparison shop in one super convenient spot.

You’ll also notice other key improvements to the checkout process, including simpler steps for adding other options (parking, t-shirts, food, etc.) to your ticket. These items are often offered by the artist, team, or venue to make the event experience even better, and now they’re easier to read and add to your order in the time allowed, relieving checkout pressure.

We hope you appreciate the changes, and we always love to hear from you – email us!

1,000,000 Fan Reviews and Counting

We want to hear from you and so do other fans! Since we launched fan reviews on Ticketmaster.com in July 2009, armies of enthusiastic fans of all kinds of events have been busy writing, rating, and reading. As of this post, we’ve counted more than 1 million reviews in the US and Canada for 4,500 artists, teams, and shows!

How did we surpass 1 million? Every day we email thousands of post-event review invitations to ticket buyers. In return, we’ve received an amazing response from fans eager to report on their live show experiences for fellow fans.

As we work to develop what’s next in social commerce and community building for our site, we’re thrilled that reviews are becoming a useful decision tool for fans, with go-to content that captures the unequaled experience of a live show or game. One of our favorite examples is a Disney On Ice recap from one young fan, whose father included this fun video to help share the moment:

As music discovery evolves, and thousands of new bands appear every year, our reviews will hopefully help you identify the standout shows. Take the French band Phoenix – their current hit album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix helped make them a commercial success.

So how are they live? Well, their recent sold-out Hollywood Bowl show helped earn them an amazing 4.7 stars out of 5. Check out what fans are saying about Phoenix on Ticketmaster.com:

“Impressive. Their energy is infectious- everyone was up and into the show. I mean everyone –18,000 people having a great time. They were gracious, happy to be playing at the bowl and really wowed. If you have a chance to go see them live, do it! You will not be disappointed.” Posted 09/20/2010 by Boots110

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect, having only heard Phoenix a few times on the radio. I was completely blown away, ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! They have such a good stage presence, their sound and lighting was exceptional and the band is sooo personable and was totally playing for the crowd before walking out to sing with them and inviting them onstage during the finale : )) I absolutely loved them and I can’t wait to see them when they tour LA again!!” Posted 09/20/2010 by SunshineAK

See all reviews for Phoenix on Ticketmaster.com and let us hear your voice – share the experience after your next event!

Kip