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Google Event Listings – What You Need to Know

Chris Marr is an alumnus of Spektrix.

In what will hopefully be an exciting development for the arts sector, Google announced this month that it will now be possible to view event listings directly within Google search results. Having been tested and murmured about for a little while, this feature now appears live in search results and is available for enterprising digital marketers to try out. Considering Google’s track record in influencing how we all act and buy online, this is likely to be an important change in the way audiences find events in the future.

What is it?

This new tool, created specifically for the performing arts, sports and events, makes the most of Google’s Knowledge Graph to display all upcoming events or performances that match certain search terms. This is currently in use by some bigger artists and venues (particularly in the music industry) but will doubtless be coming to performances in theatres and small-to-mid size venues soon too. Say, for example, I’m in the mood to see pop goddess Lady Gaga live; I search ‘Lady Gaga tour’ and find, in addition to the regular Google results you’d expect, a section of rich content at the top of the search that lists upcoming dates and venues for that artist.

On the look-out for Lady Gaga tickets? Google just made it easier.

Clicking through on any of these upcoming dates then refreshes the search feed, providing listings for that performance at that venue on official ticketing sites. Audiences are then able, within two clicks of searching, to choose their seat and buy their ticket from an official source. As a particularly powerful new feature for mobile users, this tool enables marketers to pair engaged audiences with events much more quickly and easily.

How does it work?

There are a few technical steps to achieving this, although it would be difficult to make it much simpler. In essence, it’s about adding event markup tags to your site that Google can recognise, in order to understand that you’re the (or an) official source for tickets for this event. This relies on schema.org, an initiative that Google, Yahoo and Bing use to interpret what the content on a website really means, including that which is not easy to see (in a Spektrix database, for example). Although this sounds like a challenge, Google have put out this video with a friendly but slightly awkward man to explain how it works for events listings.

This tool has partly been developed alongside Ticketmaster, so ticket sites of this type (like See Tickets, re-sellers StubHub, etc.) have had the lion’s share of coverage about this feature. Yet other ticket sites,  including theatres selling tickets from their own website, are able to achieve the same result now too, providing they add the correct HTML5 markup throughout their sites. For Spektrix users, our new web components (currently in development) will make this much easier to do; the benefit of being cloud-based means we can react to changes like this pretty quickly, too.

There’ll be some more information about this to come from us as it develops. However in the meantime, if you can’t wait for the next Lady Gaga tour either (and if you’re a fan of huge wigs, leather catsuits and people who look like Cher) then here’s something to keep you going.