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Ticketmaster's Verified Fan Program Seeks To Battle Bots

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Live Nation's ticketing unit Ticketmaster has rolled out an expanded version of their “Verified Fan” program in an effort to compact ticket scalping.

Verified Fan uses a combination of expert systems and customer data such as purchasing history in an effort to identify fans purchasing tickets and cut down on automated ticket buying systems or bots. Live Nation believes the program will cut down on ticket speculation, which they identify as an $8 billion dollar industry.

According to ReCode, the company has been dipping its toes in the water with the program, testing it over the past few months with smaller tours, but recently rolled it out the new system with pre-sales for Ed Sheeran's new tour which went on sale this week.

David Marcus, Ticketmaster’s head of music in North America told ReCode that the program appears to be effective, noting that in tours that utilize the system have an estimated bot buy rate of about 1% compared with numbers that are typically in the double digits.

Marcus added that if the program proves practical at scale, they will move it beyond the presale window, which currently encompasses a minority of ticket purchases.

"That’s like cocaine money. That's going to attract a lot of good people” Rapino said of the $8 billion secondary market. Rapino's solution was for artists, sports leagues and other people with tickets to sell to simply raise their prices at the start to remove the economic incentive.

“We can have the best technology, we can try to stop it, we can try to isolate it. But you can’t ever fix this when you leave that much money on the table,” Rapino said.

However, the Verified Fan program does not address the built-in perverse financial incentives for Live Nation as owners of multiple secondary ticketing services, or if the revenue from increased ticket prices would offset the loss of Live Nation's share of an $8 billion dollar hit to the secondary market. – Staff Writers