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StubHub exec: Increased mobile focus will amplify user experience

NEW YORK – A StubHub executive at the 2015 Mobile: IAB Marketplace revealed the brand’s increased dedication to mobile this year, as 50 percent of transactions involve a mobile device or the StubHub application, prompting the company to explore strategies such as geo-fencing and co-branded landing pages.

During the “A Fireside Chat with StubHub” session, the executive discussed the company’s foray into mobile advertising and new business models as part of its bid to catch up in the mobile sector. He also highlighted how StubHub expects to play into the growing industry of connected goods, including vehicles, which could benefit from geo-fencing.

“We’re just taking baby steps into advertising,” said Kirt Thomson, general manager of new business, StubHub, San Francisco, CA. “The mantra from StubHub has always been, ‘How frictionless can I make this?’”

“We have to disrupt the organization as well as change the view of StubHub in the marketplace.”

New app
StubHub’s new mobile application, StubHub Music, is an example of the brand’s efforts to connect more readily with on-the-go consumers and offer them streamlined ways of purchasing last-minute tickets for live events.

“I’d say we’re still catching up in terms of being mobile first,” Mr. Thomson said. “We’ve still got some things to do there.”

The StubHub Music app was featured at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and showcased original content from bands and streaming video, two aspects which resonated with users. However, there was no advertising visible within the app, which StubHub is aiming to fix in the near future.

“This was definitely a great app for Austin and now we’re seeing usage go up dramatically,” Mr. Thomson said.

“It’s all about picking up preferences,” he said. “People are creatures of habit.”

Ultimately, native apps are proving to be powerful for the company and its loyal consumers.

“We see our power users of StubHub on native apps themselves, and conversion there is two to three times what we’re seeing on mobile Web,” Mr. Thomson said.

Geo-fencing and social media
StubHub sees two major opportunities for the future in geo-fencing and in social media. The brand also is aiming to incorporate its learnings from extensive data into better event-going experiences.

“StubHub has phenomenal data on pricing,” Mr. Thomson said. “This is an opportunity for us to embrace the teams and the venues.

“We’re collecting that data, we haven’t been doing very good job of using it.”

In terms of social media, consumers are excited to share the events they attend or experiences they enjoy, which can help augment awareness of StubHub and bolster future sales. If each experience is shareable via social media, it amplifies engagement.

StubHub is also considering teaming up with other major brands to offer a co-branded site or landing page, especially in the wake of parent company eBay’s split with PayPal.

“We’re starting to entertain those conversations, whereas two to three years ago, it wouldn’t have been the case,” Mr. Thomson said.

Geo-fencing also provides a wide variety of potential for StubHub. If a consumer is traveling on a road trip, StubHub could send push notifications on mobile to alert him or her to interesting live events happening along their journey, along with a button to tap to purchase tickets quickly.

The Apple Watch will help the brand with distributing relevant content to users at the right time, suggesting that wearables will be a prime medium of communication for live events marketers.

“You’re always on, so you’re always getting interesting information based on your preferences,” Mr. Thomson said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York