Ticketmaster bets on smarter tickets to outsmart fraudsters

Ticketmaster calls Presence "the future of ticketing".

Ticket sales company Ticketmaster has launched Presence, or what it calls a “next generation venue access control and fan engagement platform” that uses a number of proximity-based digital technologies like RFID, NFC and sound to replace paper tickets and theoretically speed up venue access and ticket transfers, while also eliminating fraud.

Calling it “the future of ticketing”, Ticketmaster said fans use smart devices to enter venues with Presence. Justin Burleigh, executive vice president of product at Ticketmaster, likened it to tap-and-go technology, such as making payments at Starbucks or via Apple and Android Pay.

Presence is in 33 US venues now, but Burleigh expects to be in 80 of the “most marquis” venues in the US by the end of the year. That includes the Atlanta Falcons’ (and Atlanta United Football Club’s) new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and New York’s Madison Square Garden. Burleigh said this expansion will include 20 of the top sports teams and about 20% of all tickets.

Presence debuted early this year at Orlando City Stadium, the home of Orlando City Soccer Club. Ticketmaster said the venue has nearly quadrupled the number of identified new fans per game as a result and has seen instances of ticket fraud go from 120+ cases per game to zero.

Presence includes technology from Lisnr, a communication protocol that uses inaudible sound to transmit information. Rodney Williams, chief executive of Lisnr, said this data transmission over audio is an alternative to QR codes, but has a defect rate less than 1%. That’s versus a QR code failure rate of 10% to 20%, which he said is what creates lines at events.

“If you don’t have a failure rate, you don’t have a line,” Williams said.

Indeed, Ticketmaster says the combined product is a “streamlined, safe and more personalized and enjoyable live event experience for all”.

But given that attendees will undoubtedly still have to go through security, it is unlikely this will eliminate lines altogether – in fact, the advantages for Presence seem more numerous for Ticketmaster and venues themselves.

To wit: Presence gives venues real-time map-based attendance reporting and enhanced ticket management. That means venue personnel can, say, more easily see congestion at a particular gate and encourage attendees to try different entry points, Burleigh said.

Presence does allow fans to transfer tickets using text, email and Facebook Messenger and post tickets for sale directly from the app. In addition, entry information, in-venue updates, upgrade offers and event changes can be communicated directly to attendees.

And while Burleigh insists shaving seconds off each entry adds up, the emphasis seems most intently focused on preventing fraud.

That’s in part because QR codes on paper tickets can be easily screenshot and shared.

In fact, Burleigh said, “For us, the leading goal is to protect against fraud and enhance security overall”.

Paper tickets are also somewhat anonymous, but these digital tickets are personalized throughout the lifecycle. As a result, Ticketmaster said venues can increase security and decrease fraud by better understanding who bought the ticket and who is in the seat at an event.

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