A bot is a computer program that automatically and rapidly replicates the actions of a human. A ticketing bot is one of these such programs whose purpose is to buy tickets on behalf of their human owners.
So, as soon as concert tickets are released, a bot fills in identity details and payment info, and selects ‘purchase’ – in seconds. I find it useful to imagine them as Pacman-type creatures, scurrying around the web gathering up tickets.
It used to be that only smart computer developers could take part in the benefits of technology innovation, but things are way more accessible now. After searching ‘buy a ticketing bot’, I was presented with several options, including a site that claims to have been ‘providing automated solutions for Ticket brokers all around the world, for almost a decade now’.
It’s probable that ticketing bots started off as an experiment by a true fan of some event who missed out on tickets one time too many, and used technology to make sure they didn’t miss out again. Nowadays, it’s become obvious that they are used to rapidly snap up large amounts of tickets in order to make a profit in their re-sale.
‘How much profit’ you ask? Good question. Due to the fairly murky nature of secondary ticket sales, exact figures are difficult to get hold of. However, for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a pair of tickets were being advertised at £28,320. The original price of one ticket was £515.
100,000 tickets for Adele’s upcoming US tour sold out in minutes but then hundreds quickly appeared on re-sale websites for up to £6,000 a pair. Their original face value was between £23 and £70.
The practice has become so sophisticated, and bots so efficient, that it threatens to push humans back to the stone age. Or at least, the ‘face to face paper ticket age’ – in order to combat bots, American rock band Foo Fighters are only allowing people to purchase tickets for an upcoming US tour if they go in person to the actual box office.
The bot issue is one of the big problems the entertainment industry faces. Fraud is another: Imagine you are a fan. You wait until the tickets are released on a website, but you’re unable to secure one thanks to heavy web traffic. You find your way to a ticket resale website, where tickets are immediately available but are now three times their original price. Despite the gut wrenching cost, you buy them. Weeks later, you produce them at the door to the event only to be told they are invalid… it’s enough to put you off for life. Every year, ticket fraud makes organised crime networks in Britain £40m. Even the performers have had enough:
Secondary ticket prices ‘disgraceful’ (Sir Elton John)
The resale of tickets will not be tolerated. (Adele)
HUMANS get first shot at tickets. (Foo Fighters)
MULTIPLE CHOICE: A. SCAVENGER B. VULTURE C. TOUT D. ALL OF THE ABOVE pic.twitter.com/IL4J5mZRhM
— Prince3EG (@Prince3EG) November 13, 2015
What can we do?
The challenge of creating a fair purchase and resale environment for tickets comes down to identity and authenticity; ensuring that a real person is buying them, with restrictions placed on volume, and ensuring that in the event of re-sale, the tickets are genuine. If you’d like to know when our digital identity software will be ready for use, simply enter your email here (we won’t pass your details on to third party advertisers, and we don’t like spammy marketing emails).
By Alex Harvey
Ask me anything: @alextharv
(Pacman image: alphacoders.com)