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Live Entertainment Events Get Smart(phone)

  |  June 4, 2014   |  Comments

Mobile devices play a huge role in the live performance-going experience. So what does this mean for marketers of such events as concerts, plays, and festivals?

Summer is not simply embraced as the time of year to kick back and relax on the beach, but it is also well loved as a season when we flock to music festivals and outdoor concerts - whether classical or rock - to enjoy live music in the warm weather. Combine that timing with the fact that the Tony Awards are coming up this Sunday - and that Shakespeare in the Park is kicking off soon - and it seemed the ideal moment to look at how smartphones may or may not be impacting the live performance-going experience.

When it comes to my own entertainment planning, if my husband and I make it to a concert at Madison Square Garden this summer, or if I try to catch Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, my smartphone will play a big role as I juggle dates, assess availability, buy tickets, and plan the rest of the evening.

To determine how widespread mobile planning is in this aspect of people's lives, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) partnered with InMobi on some in-depth research and the resulting "Raising the Curtain on Mobile" report clearly shows that mobile is taking centerstage when it comes to live performance-going. The study found that an overwhelming majority of live entertainment seekers (89 percent) conducted mobile activities in direct relation to performances they have attended in the last six months. Moreover, the research demonstrates that these mobile activities occurred throughout the live performance-going process - including pre-show planning and post-show activities.

Impressively, mobile rivals TV as the preferred media channel for the first part of the process - getting information on live performances (60 percent mobile vs. 53 percent TV). Taking that information into action, 41 percent purchase concert and show tickets directly through mobile devices. In addition, more than three-quarters use mobile to help plan trips to shows and 22 percent "check in" at a live performance via social apps. And finally, nearly one-third use mobile to make plans for before or after a show.

What does this mean for concert promoters? The 2014 summer concert season includes major national tours by Beyoncé and Jay Z, Garth Brooks, One Direction, Lady Gaga, and even Billy Joel and Cher, and it's a sure bet that many fans of these performers used their mobiles to alert them the minute tickets went on sale, and it's increasingly likely they even bought their tickets via their smartphones.

Theatrical producers should expect to see the power of cross-screen in action from theater fans glued to their TVs this Sunday for the Tony Awards, ordering tickets though their phones once they see a mesmerizing scene or two from a nominated show. Then, when it comes closer to "date night" with your husband to see Bryan Cranston in All the Way or taking the kids to the new Disney musical Aladdin, you'll likely reserve a table at a restaurant for before or after the show, and tweet about the performance at intermission - all through your smartphone, of course.

More than ever, we are planning our entire lives, including our entertainment lives, via phone. As we demonstrated with our "Mobile and Movies" report a while back, and with the current study, promoters of all types of ticketed events need to move mobile to the forefront of their marketing strategy. Incidentally, the same is true of sports as well, and we'll be releasing a great new study on mobile and the World Cup later this week (even for those not lucky enough to be in Brazil, the World Cup is a social event, viewed by millions in pubs and bars as well as at home).

Needless to say, I highly recommend that you plan to get out and enjoy some great performances this summer. Just make sure to keep your smartphone with you at all times - and download a lighter app to hold up during slow songs. Then again, if the findings in this study are any indication, live entertainment fans are already at-the-ready with their mobile phones without any reminders from me!

Image via Shutterstock.

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Anna Bager

Anna Bager is vice president and general manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Mobile Center, an independently funded and staffed unit inside the IAB, is charged with driving the growth of the mobile marketing, advertising, and media marketplace.

Prior to joining the IAB, Bager was heading business intelligence at Ericsson Multimedia and head of research at Ericsson's Business Consulting unit. Earlier, she was research and consulting manager for IDC EMEA.

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