Let the Music Do the Marketing

A company founded in 1903 and an organization launched in 1775 are connecting with millennials thanks to a 21st century take on data-driven marketing.

Live Nation, whose 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster helped transform it into the world’s largest live-event company, is helping to orchestrate those connections for advertising partners such as Ford and the U.S. Army. “We’re evolving from the largest live-event company into a digital publisher,” says Jeremy Levine, Live Nation’s SVP, digital sales.

Data enables this pivot, although the company remains as committed as ever to the art of promoting and staging concerts and managing the artists who perform at Live Nation events. The way in which Live Nation harnesses its customer data is instructive because it shows how that data can drive the art (content) and science (targeting) of today’s data-driven marketing not just for an individual company, but also for its partners.

Ford revs up customer engagement

Live Nation has a tremendous amount of first-party data: more than 100 million emails of ticket-purchasers and concert-goers currently sit in its database. The company’s growing band of data scientists can extract primary insights from this data, including which events customers attended, how far they traveled to the venue, how much they spent on tickets, and which music genres they prefer. Live Nation works with consumer-research companies to augment its first-party data with psychographic data (e.g. whether a customer views herself as an influencer, a tech savvy person, a fashion maven, etc.). Live Nation subsidiary Big Champagne, a media measurement business, provides additional data points related to peer-to-peer music file sharing, music downloads, and music purchasing.

“This helps us achieve a deeper understanding of what an entertainment consumer looks like,” says Levine.

Live Nation advertising partners like Ford are hungry for that insight. Ford wanted help targeting millennials to help sell its Fiesta last year, so it worked with Live Nation to identify millennial-friendly musicians (Kid Cudi, Fall Out Boy, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Fitz and the Tantrums) for an interactive campaign. The bands were featured in an Amazing Race-esque Internet video series, “The Rider Challenge,” that Live Nation produced for Ford last fall. The series’ 18 installments features reality show contestants zooming in Ford Fiestas around cities where the artists performed, while conducting scavenger hunts created by the musicians. The program was promoted—and available for viewing—across numerous digital and social channels.

The ultimate measure of this type of program’s success is sales, of course, but not all advertising partners share those figures with Live Nation. Besides, the precision of that correlation likely varies. “We want to make sure the right message is getting in front of the right eyeballs,” Levine says. So, he and his team measure engagement with the program, as well as the program’s impact on brand perception (via pre- and post-program surveys). On the engagement front, the Ford program appears to have worked quite well. As of early October (about 12 months after the series launched):

  • PR impressions (earned media): more than 277 million
  • Digital media impressions: more than 256 million
  • Social media impressions: more than 67 million on more than 500 social posts
  • Video views: 8.5 million

Those results are driven by the multichannel marketing that supports the Web series. For example, Live Nation customers who previously purchased tickets to any of the five featured artists received custom emails about the artists’ upcoming concerts—and when they clicked on links to the artists’ site, they saw targeted advertisements for the “The Rider Challenge” series.

On tour with the U.S. Army

Based on the success of the Ford program, Live Nation more recently developed a similar program connecting the right musicians to a target audience for the U.S. Army. The “Go Army Tour Ops” Web series, announced in late September, features a reality-show look at two Army reservists working as crew members on a One Republic tour where they apply the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills they learned on duty.

Part of the Army’s pitch to potential recruits is that their service will groom them for valuable career opportunities once they fulfill their services. The reservists in the reality series demonstrate this by applying their Army-learned technical and engineering skills to rigging a stage. 

For this program, Live Nation scoured its data trove to help the Army identify musicians who would resonate with the millennials it wants to recruit, as well as the individuals—parents, siblings, etc.—who influence these millennials in their career choices. “We used the data to see which band could speak to both of those target audiences,” Levine explains. “And that brought us to One Republic.” The process, Levine continues, “is part art and part science, [with the] artist at the core of the program.” Indeed, the band is tweeting when new episodes go live and, although it was too soon at this writing to share campaign results, the program does have one clear benefit: The Web series is syndicated content that will live on beyond the initial campaign. “The Army can take this content and use it on their site as a recruiting tool,” Levine says. 

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