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On the Train to Success: SeatGeek's Experience with NYC Subway Ads

New York is packed with live events in the fall; the U.S. Open takes place in Flushing and the Jets and Giants kick off their seasons. With over six million daily riders, the NYC subway offered us an interesting advertising opportunity to reach fans in the largest entertainment market at the best time of the year for live events.

We’ve experimented with out of home advertising before, but nothing at the scale of the New York City subway. It was a big investment for us, but one that we’re ultimately glad we made, and we want to share a few things we learned along the way…

Creative and Design – Putting Fans Front and Center

We care an awful lot about design here at SeatGeek. Our ads had to stand out while at the same time conforming to rules and laws around rights and marks. In most cases we can’t use team names or logos. So, in response, we turned our attention to the crowd for this campaign, and it didn’t take long to find inspiration in the form of the fans themselves. Fans (and their enthusiasm) are what make an event extra special, so we focused our work on showcasing the craziest fans – those extra passionate people that stand out of the crowd.

Campaign Performance

Subway campaign performance was stronger than we expected. Like most marketers, we use a handful of attribution techniques for offline marketing, but one easy-to-explain method involves simply surveying users after they have completed their first SeatGeek transaction. Predictably, users did not credit the subway before the ads went up, but upon launching our campaign, 20% of new buyers attributed the subway as the way they first heard about SeatGeek. Even since the our ads came down, we haven’t seen much of a drop – subway ads are still among our largest attributed source of new customers in New York City.

After seeing how things went with this campaign, we’ll be likely to re-invest in the subway again. However the effects of the subway campaign have stretched beyond pure dollars and cents for us. We’ve received dozens of job applications from candidates who said they applied after seeing our ads. Our brand-tracking services show a nice uptick in New York City. And on a more personal level, one of our employees even scored a date with someone who recognized our ads!

If working on a campaign like this is the sort of thing that would get you fired up, consider applying for one of our open jobs! We’ve got a number of openings in design, marketing and more all listed on our jobs page.