In recent months, major companies such as Ticketfly, owned by Pandora, and Ticketmaster have been making moves to gain market share in the $7 billion national ticket service fee industry and leverage the wealth of user data to build out their product offerings. These platforms are well-known for providing tickets to major movies, concerts and festivals worldwide, but newspapers may have an edge when it comes to ticket services for local events. This is the vision behind TicketSauce, a winning startup in NAA’s 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program competition, which features top media startups at its annual NAA mediaXchange conference.
“What do media companies, especially local ones, do really well? They do a great job highlighting what is happening and the things to do in the local market,” said Travis Fisher, President of TicketSauce. “They have a great opportunity to not only handle promotion for these events, but the ability to handle the event ticketing as well– becoming the Eventbrite or Ticketmaster in their marketplace. Ticketing provides a way to get into transaction-based revenue above and beyond advertising.”
TicketSauce, a private label event management and ticketing software, was founded in 2014 with local media organizations in mind. The service provides three key benefits to media companies: Greater relationships with advertisers and the local community, a new revenue stream and access to valuable user data.
The event management space is poised to grow by 20 percent in the coming years, according to estimates by IBISWorld Market Research, with the biggest growth in online and mobile ticketing. Fisher believes there is an opportunity for media companies to “aggressively get into this space” and take advantage of the growth.
“Media companies are positioned very well to get into this business because they already have an existing client base,” Fisher said. “By bundling advertising and ticketing services together under their name, it increases their ability to promote their brand and these events. We’ve talked to a lot of event organizers and they don’t want to deal with multiple vendors – they would rather deal with someone they trust, versus an event ticketing company located far away.”
The addition of an event organizing and ticketing service allows media companies to invest in their own successful events, such as the Reno Gazette-Journal’s philanthropic Fantasies in Chocolate gala. It also creates an opportunity to connect with companies that may not be advertisers as well as local residents who may not be subscribers. In addition, users typically provide a significant amount of first-party data to purchase tickets, and newspapers can leverage this data to improve advertising services, audience reach and subscribership.
In fact, TicketSauce has already built a relationship with Newscycle Solutions to directly integrate with these circulation and software databases.
Fisher hopes that handling ticketing for in-house and community events will create a new revenue stream for newspaper media as they expand into additional marketing services and build on their advertising capabilities. With the TicketSauce platform, newspapers can set the ticketing service fee, create it under their brand and own the data.
Several media companies have already had success with the platform. TicketSauce counts Gannett, The Chicago Tribune, Wick Communications, NBC and The San Diego Union-Tribune among its current roster of clients.
When the San Diego Union-Tribune handled tickets for the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition, they sold and distributed 58,000 tickets and received data for 48,000 non-subscribers. The promotion also generated more than $17,000 for the newspaper.
“TicketSauce introduced an entirely new line of highly profitable revenue to us. Our clients love it and often increase their media buy when the platform is offered. The ticketing space can appear crowded, but we looked at them all and there’s no comparison,” said Robert York, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the San Diego Union-Tribune.
While he notes newspapers’ community reputation, involvement and marketing services as key factors for success in the local ticketing business, Fisher also sees TicketSauce as a way to buy into the mission of journalism.
“I highly believe that local journalism really keeps society honest – it’s incredibly important,” he said. “At the end of the day, you need additional revenue, ad dollars and new products to help fund that dynamic. We have a vested interest, along with our investors and employees, in seeing local media companies succeed.”
Part of a Series Featuring NAA’s 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program Winners
Lindsey is Director, Communications at the News/Media Alliance. Prior to joining the Alliance, she led communications for a food and nutrition nonprofit in Washington, D.C. for over eight years.