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04 Feb. 2014 | Comments (0)

A few years ago, at LiveNation Entertainment we were accumulating a lot of data from consumers but weren’t doing much with it—and we weren’t sure what could be done with it (a pretty common situation for companies these days).

After thinking about the data strategically, we figured out ways to put it to good use. Today, consumer information helps us benefit our clients and serves as an important differentiator in a competitive market.

The key to getting to this point was adding a new dimension to our concept of the company: We began treating data as an integral part of our live entertainment business, as important as the events we produce and promote.

The new approach to data began with a merger between LiveNation and Ticketmaster. We are now both a B2C and a B2B company: We own concert venues and are the leading promoter of live events in the world. Ticketmaster has B2B relationships with sports teams and producers of a variety of events across sports, concerts, family acts, and arts and theater. But like Live Nation, Ticketmaster has a B2C component as well, in that we sell tickets to consumers.

We saw that ideally, the data that had been collected from consumers could help us provide a holistic view of the music or sports fan for our business clients. We have transactional data about what consumers are buying, and we can enrich that with demographics and psychographics. We can also add web data—What are people looking at online?—and information from e-mail campaigns. This a tremendous amount of data.

We could provide a professional sports team, for example, with a rich view of its fan base, showing which fans buy tickets months ahead, which buy at the last minute, which pay for premium seats, and which are looking for discounts. That kind of information could help teams shape their communication to fans.

But there was a lot of work to be done. Because the information lived in disparate systems, an IT investment would be required in order to make sense of it and standardize it. Those six people with similar names in the combined databases—were they the same person? That all had to be sorted out. We’d have to make sure that everything was spelled and annotated the same way.

But this was not to be just another IT initiative: Analytics was given a clear charter to go above and beyond business as usual. We brought in experts who really understood the plumbing of the data. Then we hired statisticians and modelers to think about what was in the data and how it could be analyzed. And of course we needed businesspeople providing guidance on the business problems that the analytics group is trying to solve.

Now we’re able to deploy data in an ever-increasing number of ways. For example, a football team might ask us for advice on which artist it should bring in for a performance before an event, given the likes and dislikes of its season-ticket holders. We can do that.

We can also help clients find the best prospects for packages of season tickets or subscriptions to shows, and we can assist them in coming up with marketing messages that will resonate with these prospects.

We’ve found that it’s very helpful to have our statisticians and modelers speak directly with clients. That allows the clients to better understand the data, and it gives the statisticians a clear view of the clients’ needs.

The world of data is changing rapidly. In the next year, our big push is going to be figuring out what to do with the rising level of mobile activity. What’s the best way to collect data, and how can we best use it?

And then there’s social media—potentially a valuable means of communicating with consumers. But it’s a challenge to link Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts with basic customer-relationship-management data such as email addresses. Social is the pot of gold that no one has yet found.

One final word: It’s critical to treat consumers and their data with respect. If you’re going to use their data, you have to do it right. If consumers see that their data is going to third parties that aren’t relevant to them, you’ll lose their trust, and they’ll be quick to hit the “unsubscribe” button. Consumers’ information should be deployed to provide offerings that are relevant to them; if you do that, they’ll show their appreciation by continuing to allow you to use their data.


This blog first appeared on Harvard Business Review on 12/18/2013.
View our complete listing of HC Analytics blogs.
  • About the Author:John Forese

    John Forese

    John Forese is a senior vice president and the general manager of LiveAnalytics, a LiveNation Entertainment company.…

    Full Bio | More from John Forese


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