14 Things Every Music Festival Advertiser Should Know

If you’re like most festival advertisers, you have to work hard all season long to maximize your ticket sales. Here’s a look at the top 14 things you should be on top of to bring your digital advertising to the next level.

01

Use Platform-Level Conversion Pixels With Revenue Tracking

Track how much revenue is generated by your ad spend and use ROI’s to compare advertising options. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bing all offer conversion pixels, but the basic setup will only pass back attributed transaction volume, not revenue. One transaction could generate $3,000 for three ultra-VIP passes, while another transaction could generate $100 for a single 1-day pass.

02

Digital Advertising Is An Investment, Not A Cost

What is the total marketing budget for your festival? If you have a specific dollar amount in mind, then this rule is for you. Digital advertisers often receive performance data in real-time, so our advertising decisions should be guided more by tangible, real-world results than our prior expectations.

There is a reason you can’t switch horses halfway through a horse race, too many gamblers would end up “picking” the right horse. As digital marketers, we’re able to change our investment strategy based on what we see whenever we want. If you have a winning strategy right now, don’t be afraid to double down. Digital advertising is a lever that you can pull to increase your sales and turn down if it’s not working. Build flexibility into your advertising strategy so that you can be responsive to results.

03

Understand Your Sales Funnel

Would you read this article if your festival was guaranteed to sell out in 24 hours? Probably not. If you’re like most festival advertisers, you have to work hard all season long to maximize your ticket sales. The customer journey for festival ticket purchases is long often requiring multiple touch points.

You must know where people are located in your sales funnel, so that you can send them the right messaging. Typically, a purchaser will move through three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and finally Conversion. By implementing a robust retargeting strategy, you can segment your audience into defined subgroups and target tailored advertising to each one.

For example, ads used for shopping cart abandonment would differ from ads used to reach new people. Abandoners are at the end of the sales funnel, so you can be more direct in your sales messaging than with someone that’s never visited your site.

04

Watch Out For “Front-Running”

You want your advertising to deliver value. “Front-running” is when advertising takes credit for ticket sales that would have happened on their own, or were at least very likely to have happened on their own. Always establish clean and fair attribution windows for both click-through and view-through conversions.

As view-through conversions are impression-based, we recommend a more restricted 1-day conversion window for advertisers with an active organic presence. For advertisers with little-to-no organic conversion volume, we may open up to a 7-day view-through conversion window.

05

Pricing Tiers and Urgency

Build urgency into your advertising strategy wherever possible. People respond to deadlines and price increases, even minor ones. Use a tiered pricing strategy to move people more quickly from consideration to conversion. Many people also want to avoid lines in will call, and will respond to deadlines for wristband shipping. Be creative!

06

Lineup Announcement

Lineup announcement is one of the most important sales days for your festival. How aggressively are you hitting your fans and likely attendees? Consider running advertising leading up to the announcement, or at least using your socials, to create some preliminary buzz and give consumers some lead time.

07

Have a Ticket Sales Model

Always chart your total ticket sales from this year against previous years. By using daily exports of ticket sales, you can identify year-to-year trends to inform your marketing and budgeting decisions. Judge how you’re pacing against previous years and create sales projections based on previous performances. Keep single day, multi-day and VIP ticket sales  tracked as separate items. That way you can see if one day is outselling another or a particular ticket needs extra help.

08

Festival Site

Your website is one of the most pivotal tools in your marketing arsenal as a festival organizer. Your site is a crucial bridge between your social media presence, your advertising and actual ticket sales. Purchasing tickets should be easy to start, simple to use, and fast to complete.

People have short attention spans online and a frustrating user experience will lead to abandonment. You’ve done so much work to get someone ready to buy, don’t shoot yourself in the foot on the last step. At the same time, if people do abandon the purchase flow, make sure you have the proper retargeting set up so that you can specifically retarget people that gave up halfway through.

09

Stand Out from the Crowd

Millions of people will see your paid advertising, so take the time to invest in great creative. If you do not have the resources in house, work with an agency to design eye-catching imagery for your most important advertising pushes.

The ads that you send out into the world reflect your brand, so make sure they aesthetically communicate what your festival is. You will be advertising for many months, and ad fatigue is a real thing. Stay ahead of the game and design a variety of creative so that you can rotate your ads and keep things fresh.

10

Geography Matters

Allocate your advertising dollars in regions where the majority of ticket sales originated from. Study your sales data from the previous year, how far are people willing to travel for your festival? Create a sales distribution based on purchase location. You want to know the percentage of ticket sales for every key city or region where people purchase tickets.

Start your advertising in places with the highest concentration of ticket purchasers, and then expand into growth areas based on need. Unless you’re confident that your investment in high-selling regions will sell a sufficient amount of tickets, don’t spend 25% of your advertising budget where only 10% of historical purchases originated from.

11

Promote the Idea of Friends Buying Together

Festivals are an inherently social experience and your messaging should reflect that. Everyone that wants to attend your event is a potential ambassador for the festival to their friends.

They’re able to push their friends to buy tickets far more than you are, but you can give them some help! Remind people that purchasing in a group will save everyone money on wristband shipments. If ticket prices are going to increase soon, encourage fans to remind their friends and tag people in comments.

12

Artist Support

Artists will often have a social media presence that’s larger than the festival itself. Work with the artists on your lineup to see if there’s any willingness to coordinate with your advertising efforts. If you reach an artist’s fans with content that originates directly from their account, you improve your chances of capturing the attention of someone unfamiliar with your festival.

An organic post is always welcome, but you may want to extend the reach of that post to specific audiences. If possible, we recommend exploring the idea of advertiser admin access. This allows you to boost organic content and create “dark” posts that can be targeted directly to newsfeeds from the artist’s account. Just make sure to get everything approved!

13

Know Where Your Fans Live Online

People use many different platforms, and your fans are important no matter what they’re using. Snapchat recently released pixel-based conversion tracking and, when targeting previous purchasers via email lists, our preliminary results have been very strong.

It’s true that Snapchat users tend to be younger than other platforms, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking those are the only people there. You will hear things like “Young people don’t use Facebook anymore,” and “Old people don’t use Instagram,” but these are overstatements.

If an audience has demonstrated a propensity to purchase tickets, speak to them wherever they exist. If a 50 year old woman opens up Snapchat and we know she bought a ticket to last year’s festival, then we will try our hardest to serve her a Snap ad.

14

Focus on the Experience

Every festival is different, and some have unique characteristics that draw people back again year after year. As more and more festivals enter the market, it becomes difficult to differentiate your festival based on musical curation alone. Make sure that your marketing efforts touch on the actual experience and appeal to all five senses. Food trucks, on-site art installations, scenic locales, VIP experiences, comedy, and workshops can all be used to season your festival with a little extra flavor!

Jordan Maddocks
Written By: Jordan Maddocks
Strategy and Analytics
jmaddocks@guptamedia.com

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