StubHub Integrates Seat Maps and Tickets Into Dynamic ESPN Ad

Scoring tickets to an NFL game can be a discouraging affair, with high demand often leaving thousands of fans empty handed. As the nation’s most popular professional sport approaches the second week of pre-season games, the demand for tickets to upcoming games is growing and pushing many to seek seats from third-party exchanges.

ESPN and its long-time advertising partner StubHub created a new interactive ad that could take some of the guesswork and research out of the ticket-buying process. StubHub’s ad, which first ran on ESPN’s NFL site last week, uses geographic location to showcase the closest NFL game available.

After checking out the view from available seats, fans can purchase tickets for NFL games directly through the ad without leaving ESPN’s site. StubHub’s “Where do you want to sit?” ad will appear next on ESPN’s homepage on September 9, coinciding with the first Monday night football game of the season.

ESPN sought to break new ground with the ad, which was developed in an internal ad innovation hackathon it hosted in April. “Ad innovation is a priority for digital media” at ESPN, says Marc Horine, vice president of revenue and operations at the company. “We created this ad experience to see seat location, the view from that seat location and buy tickets from the ad experience itself.”

The ad unit stands apart from StubHub’s other online campaigns, but the companies plan to expand the capability to other high-demand events throughout the year. Horine calls the unit a “smart ad” because it can “sniff out” users preferences and geo location to provide a more customized experience. “An ad experience that allows them to interact, not leaving the page, providing this functionality, is a home run for us,” he says.

“We think the end result is a smart, useful ad experience that our fans seem to be enjoying,” Horine tellsClickZ. “We believe that not all display ads are created equal… the smarter, more useful ad experiences tend to win out,” he adds.

StubHub has been running dynamic ads around special events for years now, but this latest execution is the next stage of innovation, says Michael Lattig, head of brand and creative at StubHub.

“We have some dynamics that are just a feed, not a map. The click-through rate on a dynamic versus a static is more than double and the conversion rate is four times,” he notes.

“Everything we do from an innovation standpoint is designed to improve the fan experience,” Lattig says. "We’re putting clear choice and the seat maps right in front of people right when they’re thinking about the team they love.”

The new ad design is a “dream that we’ve had for four or five years,” Lattig says, adding that this the first time StubHub’s seating maps have been embedded in an ad.

“The sky’s the limit. This is about us potentially exporting our shopping experience into ads if we can prove this out,” he comments. 

ESPN’s latest collaboration with StubHub is a “perfect example of ad innovation,” says Horine. “This is exactly what we want to be doing. You’re going to see more of these big, exciting ad experiences from ESPN.”

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