Adam Cunningham

The biggest myth facing digital (and all the activities from social media, advertising, and marketing that fall under that title) is that it is still viewed as something that cannot fully track sales, being incorrectly lumped into the same categories as print, television, and radio.

In reality, 100% all digital activities can be tracked down to a dollar and cent value via 1×1 conversion pixels that can be placed at the conversion/thank you page for any client, selling any product, on all major ticketing systems.

Most verticals outside of the arts have realized this for years, and have adjusted their spends accordingly.

Looking at Lexus (a decidedly “older” car), recent data showed their spend allocation at 50% traditional and 50% digital/emerging technologies. For the always progressive Virgin America plan, 70% went to digital and 30% for traditional. Looking at Converse, 90% of the spend went to digital and content development (which, inevitably, is distributed via digital avenues) with only 10% left for traditional advertising means.

The arts, meanwhile, appear to be hesitant about shifting dollars.

First, looking at where actual ticket sales are coming from for various Broadway, regional, and touring productions over the past year, online is easily ahead of the pack at 34.75%.  (With the increasing issues facing group sales and subscriptions these days, I don’t imagine much of this trend to be reversed.)

Looking at the actual spend (not added value) of these same productions, the ad budget hasn’t caught up.

Obviously with any new medium (especially one that requires a reallocation of dollars, and one that is also run by folks with a median age of 22), marketers might be weary.

So let me give you three simple steps to overcome your fears, look fantastically progressive in marketing meetings, and most importantly, sell more tickets:

1.  GET PIXELS. You wouldn’t send out an email without a code to track sales, so why put digital media out there without the ability to track it? Demand it from your agency, your team, and your ticketing system. The pixel doesn’t cost you anything, and any agency and webmaster worth their salt can install it in about 30 seconds your website.

2.  GET SPECIFIC. Having pixels up for multiple shows is also important. This way, if you are running a campaign for Show A but already have Show B’s pixel live, you can see if Show A is selling Show B (or vice versa) and get a better picture of what is working. Sometimes Show A on its own will not return well, but it may in fact sell your other shows. Whether you choose to relay this to Show A’s producing team is your own decision.

3.  TEST YOUR THRESHOLD. Just because you made $20,000 by spending $1,000 doesn’t mean you’ll make $40,000 by spending $2,000. Incrementally increase your digital buys in each category (search vs display vs social vs retargeting) to better understand your market’s variables. At the end of each show, do what we always say we’re going to do, and run a post-mortem analysis. Take your findings and apply it to your next campaign. Then, take your season and do the same at year’s end. Rinse and repeat.

One Response to “Digital Myths, Lies, and Three Steps to Recovery”

  1. [...] from ARTSblog’s Digital Myths, Lies, and Three Steps to Recovery and despair for the arts sector. Is it really still a myth? It feels like many other sectors caught on to this a long time ago. [...]

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