The shortest distance between advertising and a purchase is a straight line.

I heard a great radio spot for Wicked on WPLJ the other day.  It had a Valentine’s Day theme, so it was fresh and timely.  It featured a climactic and dramatic piece of music that emphasized the story.  And it left me wanting more.  It was easy to see why someone would be inclined to buy tickets after hearing it.

But where would they buy tickets?

The call-to-action at the end of the commercial was something like this:

“For tickets, visit!”

If I was a 1980s robot, this is where I’d say, “Beep-boo-bop-bleep.  Does not compute.  Does not compute.  Beep-boo-bleep!”

Why would we send someone to Ticketmaster, a Walmart style ticketing department store, when we could send them straight to  I’ll tell you why. Because Ticketmaster makes us.

Does not compute!

Here’s the problem with the flow.

– Customer hears Wicked commercial.

– Customer goes to Ticketmaster.

– Customer then sees the home page of Ticketmaster, which looks like this and promotes everything from Katy Perry to the NBA to the Circus.  In other words, it has a lot of distractions, so your risk of losing the customer increases.

But it’s not over yet.

– Customer then has to search for Wicked by typing it into the search box or clicking around.  The risk of losing the customer increases yet again, and there is room for error, frustration, and bears oh my.

– If a customer does type in Wicked, this is what the search results show . . . and it’s like a scavenger hunt to find the date and CITY that you want (because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the show is quite the hit).  You guessed it . . . risk increases again, and your conversion rate has now dropped by a pretty healty percent, I would imagine.

Now imagine this . . .

“Buy Tickets at”

– Customer goes to Wicked‘s main site, and Wicked is able to get the customer more on the hook with images, music (perhaps the same as is heard in the commercial) etc., instead of risk losing that lead to any of the other events on the TM home page.  More hooked, rather than less.  Sounds good to me.

– There is a simple and easy to read Buy Tickets button on the home page.  See for yourself.

– And when the customer clicks on Broadway, for example, this is what they see . . . a straight through shot to exactly what they want.

Less clicks, less confusion and most importantly, Wicked‘s conversion rates increase . . . because you’ve gotten the customer to the cash register faster, which we know is more important than ever in the 2010s, which I’ve termed The Era of Distraction.

Why does Ticketmaster want the customer to go through their site?  Got me . . .

– They are not losing any money, because Wicked still ports the customer through to their site, so the full  service fees remain intact.

– Ditto with the data.  They still capture it all.

– The conversation rates for the advertising should increase, which should actually earn them more money.

– And, their customer’s experience is cleaner.

I guess they lose a bit of branding?  But really?  Is that worth more than the above?  I don’t think so.  And besides, isn’t it time they start realized that it’s the shows people want to see, not the ticketing sites.

The best e-commerce solutions I’ve seen are when there doesn’t seem to be e-commerce at all.  It’s . . . well . . . seamless.  We seem to be doing the opposite and actually calling attention to the fact that the customer is spending money.

Does not compute.

We’re sending people around the bend to get our product. It’s like driving a mile out of the way to get a gallon of milk, when you’ve got a store right next door that sells it for the exact same price.

And not only does this not compute, but it makes me say, “What the bleep?”

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  • Adam Gale says:

    Of course it makes sense from Ticketmaster’s perspective. We find the customers, at our expense, then they sell them tickets for Justin Bieber. Same as when Dell sends me a direct-mail flyer and when I get to Best Buy, the clerk tells me to buy HP.

  • BL says:

    Excellent post, Ken.

  • This post makes incredibly good points. I deal with helping to push customers to music events and would never dream of posting links in the stories we do to but rather directly to the purchase page for the specific show. Even working in the music industry I try to avoid navigating around ticketmaster like the plague. It is too big, badly designed, and hard to navigate.

  • Rick says:

    Good point, not very efficient.

  • Leigh Hile says:

    “Customer then sees the home page of Ticketmaster, which looks like this and promotes everything from Katy Perry to the NBA to the Circus. In other words, it has a lot of distractions, so your risk of losing the customer increases.”
    I wonder if this has a lot to do with it – Ticketmaster wants the customer to see their home page, have the opportunity to get distracted by other TM events they might be interested in, and possibly end up buying more than just the Wicked tickets they intended to?

  • Valerie says:

    GREAT post! I found it from this site: One thing to clarify – are you saying that theatres are *legally required* by Ticketmaster to send customers to the general Ticketmaster site if they sell tix through Ticketmaster? Sounds like the stuff of lawsuits to me. (I work with a lot of trial lawyers.)

  • They enter into contracts with the ticketing companies which has specific regulations on how shows must advertise the sale of tickets.

  • JFW says:

    Ken, interesting that you brought this up; the main ticket vendors here in Australia are also pretty aggressive in pushing their own agenda with show advertising, however just today, a radio announcement concerning the Aust. National tour of Wicked played while on my drive home, and prompted that for tickets, go to
    Really, the first time that I’ve ever heard that for a production over here too, just thought the timing was a bit uncanny. The producers for the local production include the Universal big wigs, as well as John Frost, who in his own way is starting to gain more clout locally than Disney, starting to shake things up in a big way here, and investing in a lot of new, untried, main-stage productions, which, up until the last few years, was a sin of otherworldly proportions. A sign that the landscape of theatre politics is finally starting to change?

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