Broadway Box Office First Date

Data analytics allows shows to determine those most likely to attend

Audiences at Broadway musical “First Date” are unusually frequent moviegoers. Fans of Main Stem musical romance probably watch the Food Network. Own an espresso machine? You’re a lot more likely to be a Broadway ticketbuyer than someone who doesn’t.

That’s the kind of information that data analytics and market research are providing to legit producers and presenters, and it’s helping them learn more about their core customers — and the people most likely to become customers — in order to target them in increasingly focused and cost-effective ways.

“Why send out premium-priced VIP offers to people who are looking for deals?” asks John Forese, senior vice president of data services at LiveAnalytics, a Live Nation Entertainment company alongside Ticketmaster, one of the two official outlets for Broadway tickets. “Because the demographic data we can compile is getting more and more granular, the days of sending every ticket offer to everyone in the database are over.”

The enormous footprint of Ticketmaster’s data — drawn from patrons of multiple genres of live events, including concerts and sports, at venues all over the country — makes the LiveAnalytics venture a notable one. But it’s the same sort of consumer insight plenty of other companies in the Broadway space, including Gotham-based Situation Interactive and bicoastal Entertainment Research & Marketing, aim to refine in order to help legiters strengthen their advertising efforts.

LiveAnalytics pulls together data points from its own records and from third-party vendors to rank prospective ticketbuyers from 1 to 1,000, representing the range from least likely to purchase to most likely. So far, the system has worked for Broadway Across America’s national network of touring Broadway shows: The company tried out the predictive model in nine of BAA’s markets around the country, and found that prospects who scored higher than 900 were 5½ times more likely to buy than those who didn’t, according to BAA exec director of sales Joanna Minerley.

ERM, meanwhile, draws its information largely from audience surveys, focus groups and other market research. It was through that data that the producers of “First Date” discovered the show’s young-skewing audience members went to movies as much as twice a week. As a result, “First Date” will soon be rolling out cinema ads that will screen before films.

“The research changed our thinking about who should be reaching out to, what we’re telling them and how we’re spending our money to reach them,” says “First Date” producer Randy Adams.

Situation Interactive, which handles digital and interactive marketing for a number of Broadway shows, bases its main data points on info from visitors to a production’s official website, bolstered with data from other vendors. The yield is a group of sales prospects who are good bets to tempt into ticketbuying because, for instance, they own certain kinds of products.

“I think eventually this will be the new normal, taking a scientific approach like this,” says BAA’s Minerley.

That’s probably true, except for the caveat that so much of this behaviral marketing is made possible via the kind of pervasive Internet tracking that recently has been the focus of ongoing digital-age privacy discussions. Lisa Cecchini, Situation’s director of media and insights, wonders if the current atmosphere will lead to a resurgence of contextual marketing, e.g., placing Broadway ads on websites for legit avids.

“Before, nobody really knew they were being tracked on the Internet,” Cecchini says. “Now everyone knows, and they’re learning how to opt out of it.”

(Pictured: Entertainment Research & Marketing discovered that “First Date’s” younger skewing audience members went to movies with unusual frequency — as much as twice a week. As a result, “First Date” will soon be rolling out cinema ads that will screen before films.)

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