Commentary: How Apple's "Siri" can help patrons search for your arts organization

Ron Evans, Group of Minds blog, 12/8/11

One of the most interesting features of the new iPhone 4S is "Siri," the phone's digital assistant. I feel she represents the "next big thing" in how people soon will find information about your arts organization. If you're not familiar with the concept of Siri, watch the short demo video from Apple. Although Siri is very new, what capabilities does she already have for helping a patron connect with arts? In this 12-minute video, you can see me asking questions to Siri and her responses. Don't want to watch the whole video? I've summarized the findings [here]. Is Siri the answer to every arts patron's dreams? She has a long way to go for that. But [what] she can do now is already amazing, and her abilities are getting stronger each day, due to all the people asking her questions each day. This article shows that "people who use Siri don't really need Google." That is a major potential shift in how we search for information. People on Google are searching via keywords. But Siri uses whole phrases in her searches. As an example, I asked her "Siri, what is playing at the San Francisco Symphony tonight?" -- she couldn't answer that, and did a web search. The top result was a blog post that wasn't even about the symphony. Then I got to thinking. What if I made a blog post with Siri phrase-searching in mind? I think you'll be excited by the results in this short video. My page, called "Siri, show me what's playing at the San Francisco Symphony tonight" is the #1 result on Google. This represents a huge opportunity for arts marketers who want their users to find relevant Google results via a Siri voice search until Siri can answer on her own. Considering that virtually nobody is optimizing pages in this way yet gives you an opportunity to be number one in a new search category; something that companies pay millions of dollars to reach. I see Siri continuing to grow in both popularity and capabilities. In the not-too-distant future, I'm sure Siri will speak her response back to questions on our arts events, and help patrons find their way to our box offices to purchase tickets. If we start considering the possibilities now, we can be ready for this day.


Nextag acquires ticket search engine FanSnap

Alfred Branch Jr.,, 12/8/11

Online shopping site Nextag has purchased ticket search engine FanSnap for an undisclosed price, the two companies announced Wednesday, December 7. Visitors to FanSnap can type in the name of a team or event and comparison shop for tickets from the country's leading ticket resale exchanges and broker sites. On Nextag, consumers largely do the same thing, but instead of tickets they search and compare products or travel deals from leading vendors.  Mike Janes, founder and CEO of FanSnap, told TicketNews that the company made the deal in an attempt to survive and grow in a highly competitive and rapidly changing industry. "We came to the conclusion that, while FanSnap is twice as large as any other ticket search engine, we needed more scale to really take advantage of the opportunity," Janes said. "Enter Nextag, with 40 million shoppers a month." Janes believes the millions of potential new customers FanSnap will gain access to could mean improved sales and marketing opportunities for the company's ticketing partners, which include StubHub, TicketsNow, Ace Ticket, Razorgator, Barry's Tickets and TicketNetwork. "Together FanSnap and Nextag will become an indispensable resource for sports, concert, and theatre fans, as they can find the best values in tickets, merchandise, travel, and lots of other great stuff fans shop for all in one place," Janes said. The acquisition will not affect FanSnap's multi-year deal with Microsoft's search engine Bing, according to Janes. Under that agreement, event-related searches on Bing point users to tickets on FanSnap.


Commentary:'s new search tools for theater raise ethical issue

Kar Stoeffel, The New York Observer, 12/2/11

The New York Times is in the midst of adding a slew of interactive bells and whistles, including e-commerce, to its online Theater section. [The Times] has revamped its listings and added an interactive show finder that refines listings based on mood and audience (adults-only tragedies, please) called the "Show Tuner." Reviews now have a "Buy Tickets" link powered by Ticketmaster and integrate deals from TicketWatch, the paper's discount ticket newsletter. The site will also syndicate video content from the Broadway Channel. "We've tried to make the Theater section a more useful and appealing place for readers," culture editor Jonathan Landman said in a press release. "We've learned over the years that people use our reviews, articles and multimedia to guide their ticket-buying choices." Such programs raise an ethical issue, however. If The Times takes a little off the top each time a critic "guides [readers'] ticket-buying choices," can readers trust the paper to honestly assess real theatrical atrocities? "The business side of The New York Times is entirely separate from the newsroom," a Times spokesperson told us. "Such arrangements have no influence on what our reviewers or journalists write."

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