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YPlan exec claims real-time data is linchpin to mobile commerce

March 14, 2014

YPlan's mobile app

NEW YORK – YPlan’s chief executive at the fifth annual Mobile Marketing Day conference revealed how the company plans to roll out its events-based mobile application to markets outside of New York, London and San Francisco.

The “YPlan: Using mobile to seize a multi-billion dollar industry” presentation looked at how YPlan has built up its services in the past year since launching in London in 2012. The executive also spoke about broader trends that are impacting how marketers and retailers leverage mobile commerce.

“The way that we see the future is that commerce will become increasingly done on mobile — whatever that mobile device is, it will be immediately relevant to the customer, so all the commercial applications have to think about being smart and location-aware [and] preference-aware,” said Rytis Vitkauskas, cofounder of YPlan, London.

“It will also be very much focused on real-time,” he said. “If you look at some of the more successful ecommerce marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, there’s a reason why Amazon is investing like crazy.

“Commerce is going to move increasingly more into, ‘I ordered, I got it.’ Instant gratification, but also just the natural way that commerce is progressing now with everyone online all the time, and the expectation for service being super high.”

Mobile-first entertainment
The YPlan app is now available in London, New York and San Francisco and has amassed more than half a million users.

It is a mobile-only market place for event tickets, including concerts, sports and comedy. The company’s app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

The idea behind the app is to help promoters increase their seat yield. The average event only sells 60 percent of its seats, and is thereby pushing mobile users to buy time-sensitive events.

However, the mobile-only format means that YPlan has to cut down the amount of content to the bare minimum.

Interestingly, YPlan has found that consumers are less interested in location than they are in social media, content and price.

“You only have so much to play with [on a mobile screen], and it’s as true as it is for product as is true for the way that we market to the customer,” Mr. Vitkauskas said.

The point is that more mobile commerce is moving towards more real-time information where marketers have the option to drive time-sensitive sales.

Mr. Vitkauskas

Push versus pull

YPlan has also experimented with push notifications and alerts to keep entertainment fans engaged with app content.

YPlan estimates that 40 percent of its app users opt-in to push notifications. Then once consumers begin receiving messages, there is likely a high number of consumers who are dropping out of push notifications.

To compare, .1 or .2 percent of email subscribers will unsubscribe from a newsletter, per the YPlan executive. The executive estimates that the opt-out rate on push notifications is ten to 20 times higher.

“It gives you a sense of how tricky it is to actually engage the customer once they’ve downloaded the application,” Mr. Vitkauskas said. “What that means is that the focus — and this was a big realization for us when we launched — the focus of our marketing approach has to be very much on how to create awareness of the brand, [and] how do we create an identity to the brand such that whenever the customer has the use case, YPlan is the natural answer.”

When it comes to promoting the app, one of the tactics that YPlan is using is Facebook mobile app installs. The brand is particularly interested in the retargeting ad format that targets consumers who have already downloaded the app.

Based on a consumer’s location and Facebook “Likes,” the brand can target specific groups of consumers.

Beyond the smartphone
Entertainment and sports is one of the verticals in mobile that has seen early success with mobile in driving spontaneous, quick sales.

However, the definition of what mobile commerce looks like may change a bit in the next few years to include wearables and connected devices.

“When I say mobile, I don’t necessarily mean smartphone, and I also don’t mean tablet,” Mr. Vitkauskas said. “What I mean is mobile — that means that the device is smart, it’s being carried by the user, it’s enabled in terms of understanding the user’s location, the user’s preferences and purchasing habits.”

Final Take
Rytis Vitkauskas is cofounder of YPlan, London

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