In a recent post on its blog, Google announced that it will begin providing links to event tickets directly within search results. Thanks to initial partnerships with ticketing heavyweights Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, and AXS, searching for upcoming shows will now neatly display all of the participating artist's tour dates, locations, metadata, and a purchase link. In simplifying the search process for upcoming concerts, Google has also reminded us just how laborious the current means can be.
If you attend shows with any regularity, you're no doubt familiar with the often frustrating experience of ticket acquisition. It typically goes something like this: After remembering that you like a band, you go to a website like Ticketmaster or some national concert promoter's site and try to find information on their upcoming shows. Finding nothing, you then Google it and are taken to a Songkick or Bandsintown link that was curiously absent the first time you tried to locate it. After clicking through a few more pages, you eventually purchase your ticket. By contrast, Google's new approach will involve typing "Deadmau5 tour" into their search bar and having all the relevant information immediately available. It sounds easy but owners of competing ticket aggregators should be very worried.
To date, customers put up with the hassle of aggregators because the alternative--going to individual artists' websites and praying that they had current info--was that much more demoralizing. Aggregators made the experience sweeter by allowing visitors to track their favorite bands, and by suggesting events that customers might be interested in. Will those features alone be enough to stop customers from migrating towards Google's direct approach? Probably not. Social media penetration increasingly devalues services such as these.
Independent ticketing platforms like Flavorus, Wantickets, Resident Advisor and Brown Paper Tickets will also be affected by Google's introduction into the market. As the benefits of being a Google-affiliated platform become more apparent, promoters who have traditionally balked at the corporate ticketers' high service fees will likely move their larger shows to services like Ticketmaster.
Even Facebook won't be without cause for worry. Event pages represent an integral element of their ecosystem; they're easier for artists to update than their own sites, for one. They're also social. But more eyes on Google means fewer eyes on Facebook.
There are plenty of alternatives for competitors. Ticket aggregator Jukely's subscription service, Unlimited, charges customers a reasonable monthly fee in exchange unlimited concert tickets (with a few restrictions). Without much effort, Jukely has simultaneously diversified its revenue stream, brought something new and innovative to its customers, and further boosted attendance for concert promoter clients. Similar websites would be smart to invest in new functionality.
Google's entry into the market will undoutedly alter the ticketing industry at all levels. Mega-sites like Facebook could find their event pages less useful to customers fed up with poor search functionality; independent ticket sellers could lose more and more of their big-ticket acts; ticket aggregators could lose the very thing that made them necessary. Whether or not competitors can weather the storm is a mystery, but we know one thing for sure: with or without a foe in Google, their success in the coming years will come down to ingenuity, resourcefulness, and agility.
There is one area of competition that seems to be uncontested: which service will charge fans the lowest fees? Solving that mystery, perhaps, is the most golden ticket of all.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley