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Measuring ROI: Proving Value in the Arts & Entertainment Space

As we have made our way through Summer 2021, we have been fortunate to have seen a return of the performing arts, the ability to attend sporting events in person, the chance to once again visit museums and historical sites and the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of other activities that brought us so much joy in years past. While arts, entertainment and recreation venues and organizations experienced revenue declines in 2020 due to the pandemic, this vertical has seen significant growth in recent months.


Employment within the arts, entertainment and recreation space continues to grow month over month in the United States. Overall, the leisure and hospitality industry added about 380,000 jobs in July, with the arts, entertainment and recreation sector adding about 54,000 jobs.


To ensure further recovery and to encourage more consumers to enjoy the arts and entertainment space, venues and organizations are adopting new marketing strategies to increase customer engagement. Many organizations in the Capital Region are currently bolstering summer marketing campaigns and preparing for fall and winter program launches, but largely with a singular goal in mind – get people through the front door and into a seat.


Arts and entertainment venues and businesses alike have place newfound emphasis on marketing plans and strategies that focus on direct return on investment (ROI). Products and services that drive ticket sales are more critical than ever in light of last year’s revenue loss. Organizations are looking to best utilize marketing budgets, adapt quickly to changing consumer needs and chart a new course for a future that doesn’t center around COVID-19.


This week, we’ve highlighted five marketing tactics that drive traffic, drive ticket sales and drive revenue (not that we don’t love a good branding campaign as well!). However, hearing from our partners in the arts and entertainment space, we know how important it is for venues and organizations to engage directly with consumers and see a clear ROI from well-thought-out campaigns.


Display Advertising




By definition, display ads are typically banner ads (graphics and text) that appear on websites and social media platforms. These ads are a form of “pay per click” advertising where the companies distributing the ads pay when someone – hopefully someone interested in making a purchase – clicks on the ad.


For arts and entertainment venues and organizations, display ads can help you stand out, attract attention and generate interest by complementing the flow of content on a website. Banner ads on TimesUnion.Com are meant to generate traffic/leads to your organization’s page (event tickets or otherwise).


The Times Union and Hearst have recognized the value in direct ROI correlation for some time. As such, Hearst has invested in its proprietary data collection to create hundreds of unique, custom audiences for our client partners locally. This allows for advertising campaigns to reach highly qualified individuals and makes for cost efficient campaigns.


By leveraging a consumer’s interest in a topic or product using a range of techniques such as browsing history, geographic targeting and demographic information, the Times Union can assist consumers in discovering events and getting your business in front of the perfect audience as they are perusing for the perfect entertainment or recreation venue or outlet. Using this data, we are able to serve your ads to precisely the right audience – reducing costs and improving campaign results.



Hearst Premium Network


Can’t get enough of display advertising? We’ve got you covered! Here at the Times Union, we have full access to Hearst’s proprietary core audience solution to give your business efficient results across the most iconic publishing brands in the Capital Region. We’ll serve your organization’s ads on locally targeted national brands within Hearst’s portfolio like,,, Popular Mechanics and many more.


Through our industry-leading targeting technology, we are able to view an individual’s location and their interests (based on sites they have previously visited) in order to determine whether they are in fact your company’s ideal target.


Furthermore, we optimize your campaign based on clicks and other ad activity (such as calls). That way, the performance of the ads running becomes even more effective over time. While generating leads and seeing campaign ROI is crucial, better understanding your audience is also enormously helpful – especially when launching marketing campaigns on additional mediums.


Email Blasts


Email marketing is an advertising medium that has withstood the test of time largely due to the fact that it can be utilized within any vertical, benefits any company that needs to boost brand awareness and traffic (in-person and digitally), and can be highly targeted in order to reach the desired audience for your organization.

A few targeting options include:

✓ Geographic

✓ Demographic

✓ Household Income

✓ Net Worth

✓ Education

✓ Purchase Behaviors

✓ Occupation

✓ Interest Targeting and more!


For arts & entertainment venues, creative marketing assets are typically bountiful. As such, incorporating engaging elements such as videos, images or photographs into a targeted email campaign is a great way to boost open rates and engagement and in turn, drive ticket purchases. In fact, email campaigns that contain video assets can boost open rates by 19%, boost click-through rates by 65% and reduce unsubscribes by 26%.


We also want to note that according to a report by Unruly, consumers who watch video advertisements on their mobile devices are about three times more likely to click through to a brand’s website than those on their laptop or desktop. This stat combined with the fact that 41.9% of consumers use their mobile device to view and open emails (compared to 39.9% webmail opens and 18.2% desktop opens) makes for a pretty compelling case for organization’s to not only combine the advertising mediums, but ensure that both the email marketing platform and the video ad format are mobile friendly and easy to open on the go.


The last thing we want to mention on the email marketing front for arts and entertainment venues and businesses is the fact that spend within this advertising medium is growing. According to Borrell Associates, email marketing ad spend within the arts & entertainment vertical is expected to increase by 5.9% year-over-year. As we noted earlier, venues and organizations have placed higher emphasis on utilizing advertising mediums that provide direct ROI. Email marketing is a cost effective, highly targeted, measurable advertising medium to reach ideal audiences locally, nationally or globally.


Native Advertising


Native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look, feel and function of the media format in which they appear. The appeal of sponsored content (aka native advertising) and the key to its success is through its ability to look like part of the editorial flow of the page and its non-disruptive nature. The ads also run on desktops, mobile devices, tablets and are commonly found within social media feeds – specifically Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Through native advertising, your organization can become a thought leader within the arts & entertainment space with strong content marketing that has guaranteed engagements. Here at the Times Union and through our partners across Hearst, we can help create a narrative for your business that tells your story in an engaging way that people want to read.



Social Media


Arts and entertainment venues know that events are naturally social in nature. In a visually oriented communication world, social media platforms lead the charge in “showing” brand stories and relaying value. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok can be used to share events, drive engagement through a multitude of online communities and (we’re going to say in again!) drive ticket sales.


Devising a social media strategy for deployment and identifying specific targeting to reach your desired audience ensures maximum scale and effect for your messaging. Creating paid social campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat is a cost efficient way to generate more traffic to an event page and bolster revenue.


For those unfamiliar with Snapchat, our blog on the social media platform highlights ways in which Snapchat Ads can be utilized to fit your brand, your target audience, your target geography and your overall advertising goals. On a similar note, check out our blog on utilizing Facebook to engage with consumers at each stage of the modern consumer journey – the platform can work wonders for arts and entertainment venues and businesses!


In Conclusion


Take into account what your venue or organization needs – both in the present and in the future. As with any other marketing strategy, breaking down and analyzing goals is the first step to launching a successful advertising campaign.


As your business adopts to the changing times and changing consumer needs, the Times Union Media Group is here to help every step of the way. We recognize how challenging this past year has been and understand that the road to recovery has just begun. However, we can help attract your desired audience and assist in getting patrons through your front door for days, months and years to come.




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