HITS Daily Double

Live Nation battles bots

HUMANS V. BOTS: In The N.Y. Times over the weekend, media reporter Ben Sisario helpfully broke down the latest problem facing the concert industry. Reps from Ticketmaster told the reporter that bots have been used to buy more than 60% of the most desirable tickets for some shows; in a recent lawsuit, TM accused one group of scalpers of using bots to request up to 200k tickets a day. “As with hackers, you can solve it today, and they’re rewriting code tomorrow,” said Live Nation chief Michael Rapino. “Thus the arms race.” In late 2011, TM hired John Carnahan, who previously fought online advertising frauds at Yahoo, to lead its anti-bot effort. By monitoring the behavior of each visitor to Ticketmaster.com, the company can determine the likelihood of a customer being human or a machine. For example, Sisario explained, a human may click a series of buttons at a range of speeds and in different spots on a screen, but bots give themselves away by rapidly clicking on precisely the same spot each time. “We’re not trying to stop anybody from buying tickets,” Carnahan said. “We’re just trying to make sure that a fan can buy the tickets.” In terms of the secondary ticket market, however, Live Nation finds itself in a complicated position because it also profits from the ticket resale market through TicketsNow—its own version of StubHub—as well as through deals with sports entities like the NBA. But Rapino sees no contradiction in LN’s stance. “I have no problem if you bought a Justin Timberlake ticket and you decide to go sell that ticket to somebody,” he told Sisario. “We would first and foremost want to make sure that the first ticket sold, that the fan has a shot to buy that ticket.” (5/28a)