January 29, 2007

Chicago Bears vs. Ponies

I never wanted to know this much about the market for
secondary tickets. But after an incredible experience negotiating through different online ticket brokers for my own ticket to this year’s superbowl, I became quite intimately familiar with several different ticket brokerage websites and revenue models (i.e. price gouging out my eyes!). The industry is absolutely incredible. No price equilibrium at all. The very same ticket might go for completely different prices on different sites, with intangible factors like security, trustworthiness, reputation, etc. all playing a major part in conversion rates (it did for me).View from My Superbowl Seats

I did not buy my ticket from Stubhub (no selection), TicketsNow (huge service fees), RazorGator (pricey to begin with) or any of the more prominent ticket houses. Instead, I actually bought my ticket from a website that didn’t seem trustworthy at all. Before you judge, I say this because the site just looked far too… “affiliate”. The design wasn’t as clean as the others, but after speaking with the owner we discovered he actually owned the tickets and was able to sell them to us without a “service charge”, which went as high as 20% (price gougers!). When dealing with a ticket that ranges from $3k-$5k for upper level (where we’re sitting), that came out to be a significant savings. So forget about the design. Forget about the shanty graphics or lack of deep links to technically-sound pages full of content. Forget about the fact that I don’t even get a lanyard (a word I discovered just recently) with my purchase.

What attracted me to this site was that it had a solid link profile, a PR7 on a domain from 1998 and yet very few rankings. Some more digging showed they were spending some (probably most) of their money on red-light brokered footer & sidebar links. (funny: integrated ticket brokers paying link brokers). SCORE! Does this guy need some real link building strategy or what? Could I possibly manage to barter SEO for superbowl XLI tix? To see my Bears play after 20 years of losing miserably? No way (right?)…

But before jumping the gun, being the ever-curious search marketer that I am, I needed to know more about the state of search in this vertical. Granted, seasonal terms like “superbowl tickets” come around only annually, but here is a space that is not only broken down to local listings (concert venues), but multiple listings for team-specific, sport-specific, performer-specific, and concert type (comedy, jazz, pop/rock, country, etc.). In short, there are HUGE numbers of event types, all requiring their own deep links. This is the sort of competitive, complicated vertical that I love getting into.

I didn’t even have to pitch. I didn’t even have to mention that I work in search. The owner grabbed my email address and asked me for advice. One cursory examination of the top 10 competitors and a list of actionable suggestions later, we’ve got a meeting set up for the day after the superbowl. If all goes well, i hope to have a client that should help to pay off this ridiculous ticket price fairly soon. On the other hand, the Bears better win or else I’m going to give those guys some really bad advice… (kidding, kidding).


  1. Abhilash, thanks for sharing this! Shows that with a little digging, you can definitely find some true gems in a pile of rocks that seems unmovable. I hope it turns out well for you on the client end!

    Have to say though I’m pulling for the colts, my 2nd favorite coach in the entire two leagues is Dungee. Who’s my first? Well I bleed green, and boo at my own team from time to time (who has yet to win a superbowl) – that should give you a hint!


    Comment by Li Evans — January 29, 2007 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Wow, you rock! You’ve been winning big lately by digging deep. Have a great time, we want to hear all about it.

    Comment by David Temple — January 30, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

  3. Thanks guys. Li, you’re absolutely right. Isn’t it amazing what incredible results can be had with just that tiny bit of extra work? I’m so very sorry to hear that you’re a Colts fan (kindof) though! Hmmm…green & no rings…Eagles?? (I had to look at NFL.com for that one). Well they put the Bears down SO many times…

    David, you’re one of the most prolific surfers I’ve seen. Inspiring example of how powerful (& professional) social networking can be. :)

    Comment by Abhilash — February 1, 2007 @ 1:09 am

  4. could you possibly forward a few trustworthy names…i will be going next year (pats fan).

    Sorry for your loss this year – you do have an awesome tean now.

    Hope to see you there next year

    Comment by frank sands — May 2, 2007 @ 6:46 pm

  5. Be very careful if someone is offering to sell you tickets for much below the going rates of the know names such as RazorGator. I did a lot of looking last year at so called cheap tickets. People even put pictures on ebay of their tickets. I got lucky and was able to talk to someone in NFL security in NY. On two occassions the tickets that were shown on ebay were still locked up at NFL headquarters. There are some really good immitators out there.
    The old rule that if it seems too good to be true, it is probably not true surely applies to Super Bowl tickets.
    I have been to 3 or the last 4 and am going again this year.

    Comment by Chuck — December 5, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  6. Could you please forward the sites or names of anyone trustworthy?? I may just be going !!

    Comment by frank sands — January 2, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

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