Ticketmaster and Button: A Mobile Commerce Experience

Ticketmaster is hard at work creating world-class mobile consumer experiences, but even when you are a major player in ticketing, finding engaged audiences with intent is always a challenge. We need to continually be there for our fans while they are in the process of exploring the things they love – bands, sports teams, theater – in best-of-breed publishers, and find a way to seamlessly deliver them into our apps. Apps that are iterating at what feels like warp speed.

In the last year alone, we have released 11 versions of our iOS app. During this time we have delivered: a Universal version (iPad compatibility), In-Venue Seat Upgrades, ApplePay, Search Suggest, iCloud Account Sync, Seat/Section Preview, Sign-In after Offering, Accepting Transferred Tickets, Camera-Scanning Credit Cards, and iOS9 App-Content Searching.

As a global market leader and incumbent in the space, we are continually finding better ways to iterate, test and evolve more quickly. This doesn’t always mean developing technology in-house. We frequently test and implement exciting new ideas in the marketplace through third-parties. Through one partnership with Button, we get access to many other companies that are philosophically aligned with our own customer acquisition goals.

Fans use a variety of mobile apps to consume content like music, videos, news, or sports scores and stats. Most apps focus on a particular form of media, like music streaming, or a particular group of fans, like hockey fans. This leads to a fragmented mobile commerce marketplace, that is something we’re constantly thinking about and developing for. For example: How do we enable discovery of related content across many disparate apps?

Button provides a deep-linking connective tissue between these disparate apps.In fact, Button’s integration techniques are actually quite straightforward and easy to use. This is how it works:

Let’s say we have a Great Music App that provides some amazing music streaming services. That app may want to offer users a button that links to more content by a band. The content could be videos, news, or in our case: concert tickets. In the app, this “button” can be created using the Button SDK. This is a subclass of UIControl which includes some code that creates a deep link into an external app. Button will also provide an Affiliate ID to make sure this app gets credit for any purchases made due to the link.

There is a little bit of a tricky part here: First, we need some kind of common name or ID for the artist to make sure we land the user in the right place in the linked app. Second, depending on whether the linked app is installed or not, your button could open a link to the Apple AppStore or a deep-link directly into the external app.

The deep link opens the Ticketmaster app directly onto a page listing upcoming concerts by the specified artist. If the user then purchases tickets, the Order ID and Amount are sent to Button along with the original app’s Affiliate ID. It’s convenient for us and secure for the fan.

Music App Example:

button_flow

From the linked-app side, everything is very simple. The app only needs to handle two events:

  1. App has opened with a deep-link and an affiliate ID
  2. User has placed an Order (bought tickets)

We handle the app opening in the appDelegate. All we really need to do here is store the Affiliate ID for later. The Button SDK can help here:

button_ad_code

Next, when a purchase is completed, we look to see if we have a stored Affiliate ID and send it to Button along with the Order Number and Price. The Button SDK handles this for us as well:

button_order_code

So two lines of code and done!

Observations:

Now, given how simple these operations are, you might question the need for the Button SDK at all. Button has already thought of this and also provided a simple network API that your app can call directly to get everything you need. The API is a little more code, but allows the transparency and flexibility needed to make sure Button integrates perfectly with your existing security and coding standards.

I feel like Button could do a little more to solve that tricky business I mentioned earlier in the originating app, but for the linked app, their implementation couldn’t be simpler.

Button has provided an amazing first step to solving the big problem of linking content across the diversity of media-rich apps found on mobile devices today and in the future. The future of the mobile commerce marketplace – better for the developer and better for the fan.