Geo-Fencing The Amphitheater

Live Nation is using geo-targeting methods to help bring live events to life, and to connect fans to their favorite acts through advances in social media.

Imagine if Beatles fans in the sixties had a smartphone, an Instagram account, and the ability to be geo-targeted. Would their concert experiences have been more momentous? Would they have been better connected to fellow fans and to the act itself? Might they have had the chance to attend concerts they otherwise would have missed? No one can answer with certainty, but Live Nation, the massive concert and events promoter/producer may lean toward “Yes, yes, and yes.”

Along with its ticket-selling corporate sibling, Ticketmaster, Live Nation is one of the most dominant presences in the live events space. The Beverly Hills-based firm owns and/or operates over 80 venues across the U.S ranging from smaller clubs like the House of Blues to mammoth amphitheaters like the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA which holds nearly 20,000 people.

“Over the last couple of years, Live Nation has really evolved into a digital publisher,” says Jeremy Levine, SVP of digital sales at Live Nation. “Leveraging the scale we have on and, we’re producing original content to engage fans as they’re searching for and discovering music and live entertainment.” 

Follow That Tour Bus!

Considering that all 80-some of the U.S venues Live Nation handles are physical domains hosting actual events, offline engagement is crucial, but digital media plays a role there, too. To bridge the gaps between online and offline marketing, Levine says Live Nation has been steadily expanding its use of geo-fencing techniques.

“We’ve created a product called ShowBook, [in which] we’re geo-fencing the different tour stops of an artist, and aggregating and curating the fan social content that is being generated at any given moment,” says Levine.

ShowBook was introduced in November 2012 as part of Live Nation’s redesigned, location-friendly website (the redesign also touted the new “Show Finder” which enabled users to search for shows in their area). ShowBook collects concert photos and/or videos that attendees have shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. It archives the footage according to date and show to ultimately serve as, in essence, a fan’s ultimate photo album compiling images from venues everywhere.

“The beauty of geo-fencing is that, unlike a hashtag, you’re not asking someone to take an extra step,” Levine says. “If you’re literally in that geo-fence, we’re going to capture that and showcase it on ShowBook.”

Customizing The Live Stream

Another program of Live Nation’s where geo-components played a prominent role was in its marketing work with phone maker HTC. To promote HTC’s new smartphone, HTC One (which touts speakers that integrate Beats Audio technology) Live Nation helped orchestrate the HTC One Live Experience Tour, a multi-city pop up event where consumers could watch Live Nation concerts on the new mobile device.

“We created kiosks for the HTC One in major markets such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and L.A,” says Levine. “”We created these boomboxes that brought the phone to life. We created content to feed into these kiosks and produced three private HTC shows in different cities. One with Pharrell [Williams] in New York, one with Group Love in Chicago, and one in L.A with Manchester Orchestra.”

Live Nation also created a custom digital hub online, where users could watch concerts streaming in real-time either on their smartphones or by desktop. The digital hubs were geo-fenced and allowed Live Nation to send locally-relevant advertising to viewers.

“The geo-fencing content that was being generated by fans of the show was framing the actual live stream itself,” says Levine. “If you were watching Pharrell perform, you were also seeing the social chatter on Twitter that was happening at the show. You were also seeing Instagram [photos] and Vine videos. It created a more engaging, richer experience then just watching the linear live performance.”

Levine adds that Live Nation did something similar with Kellogg’s for its Pop Tarts brand and the Crazy Good Summer campaign. Live Nation produced concerts in various cities that will run through this summer. “We’re doing these custom live events and bringing them to life through social geo-fencing content,” says Levine.

Building An In-House Powerhouse

Live Nation is able to produce all of its location technology in-house in part because of the acquisition of Big Champagne, a media measurement company.

“Their core product is something called the Ultimate Chart, which is a new way of measuring music,” Levine says. “Big Champagne came up with a formula of measuring hundreds of data points [including] peer-to-peer file sharing, social chatter, video views, downloads, and streaming to create a realistic chart of how people are digesting music today in a technology background.”

When it bought Big Champagne in 2011, the company created Live Nation Labs. That unit that “runs the development and content side of the Live Nation brand and develops this custom geo-fencing technology,” says Levine, adding that Live Nation Labs also focuses on presenting content on social networks and on the site’s homepage — and all of it is geographically relevant to users.

“Based on what region you’re in, you may react differently [to Live Nation content] than someone in another region. We’re really looking at why people in certain regions have a higher propensity for certain artists and genres, and the time frame in which they buy tickets, [etcetera]. These tests are ongoing.”

Festival Of Beacons

As Live Nation continues to fine-tune its location-based offerings and increase understanding of geo-behavior, as it were, it is embracing one of the most promising geo-targeting technologies on the rise: the beacon.

“We’re starting to test out beacons at our festivals and venues,” Levine says, adding that in addition to the some 80 concert venues owned by Live Nation, the brand also owns around 25 festivals across the US. “A festival is a perfect platform for the beacon even more so than a venue because it [consists of] acres and acres. It has multiple stages, multiple activation areas, and multiple concession stands.”

Much of Live Nation’s testing out of beacons will take place this summer during music festival season and Levine is optimistic about the results.

“The beacon technology is going to be really powerful,” he says. “It will not only benefit Live Nation and the fans in terms of getting [them] the content that they’re looking for, it will allow for the brand to enhance their experience.”