Events and “recreational discovery” are being transformed by social media, as evidenced by the development of Eventbrite, a new ticketing platform, and Goby, which helps consumers find things to do, including travel.
Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz noted that his company, founded in 2006, produced gross ticket sales “approaching a half billion dollars” plus thousands of free events. The company recently provided tickets for Shamrock Fest, an Irish festival at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. This summer, it is going to provide tickets for a 65,000 ticket event.
Hartz noted that the new era is marked less by search, which he describes as algorithmic discovery,m as by social discover via “shares” from friends, colleagues or others with tastemaker authority.Every Facebook share of a music concert is worth $12 in sales. Facebook is by far the most influential for sales; Twitter is #3 and LinkedIn is #5. “The local proximity of friends is the prevailing thesis here,”says Hartz.
The company’s current focus on events, ticketing and registration is a possible precursor for other verticals. “Events are naturally social,” noted Hartz. Events, ticketing and registration are a precursor to other verticals. Event are naturally social. Attend with friends or professional events with colleagues or people they admire.
Goby CEO Mark Watkins, meanwhile, noted that his company’s focus on recreational experiences in 350 categories is underappreciated. “A lot of focus on the restaurant space, but the experience is important too. He noted that it is sometimes more effective than other means for discovery. Local search, social networks, travel sites and mobile all have their own issues that keep them from being ideal, he said.
Local consumers are looking beyond pure search when they are looking for family fun. That’s the unmet need that Boston-based Goby.com is trying to meet in its 350 category, events and family fun search site. The site is now reaching 500,000 unique visitors a month — double the number from our prior writeup of the company in March 2010.
CEO Mark Watkins tells us that the 10-person startup, which has raised $7.5 Million from Flybridge Capital Partners and Kepha Partners, including $2.5 million in October, has evolved from its roots as a local search engine. “We’ve been making it more of a social experience, and have started focusing more on mobile,” he says.
The key is to move beyond a pure search experience, which on the Web, is pretty much owned by Google. “Google is such a good aggregator of intent,” he says. Mobile audiences are much smaller, and (user) intention is really much more fragmented. User needs aren’t as easily met by a one-stop mobile search site.
At the same time, people have deeper relationships with mobile, Watkins says. Mobile apps that integrate with Facebook and allow users to share information with each other are likely to be more successful with audiences. Not that it is “either-or.” There is also a real connection between web usage and mobile usage, Watkins says. People might make a list on the Web for use later on mobile.
For these reasons, the mobile apps are more likely to attract regional chains as advertisers, as well as national marketers, such as the movie studios. Disney, for instance, has been running a mobile ad campaign with Goby for its release of Tron – the company’s first direct sell. “They’re very interested in mobile, even though it has a smaller audience than the Web.”