Broadway Baby

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The industry statistics for banner click-through rates (the number of times your banner is clicked and the visitor ends up on your site) make depressing reading for both advertisers and publishers. Across the board, a recent Sizmek report showed click throughs on average dropping below 0.1 percent. Even on highly focused sites like this one, click throughs hover around 0.3 percent. That means for every 1000 banners you show, you’ll probably only get about three people clicking on your banner.

What does this mean for your show marketing budget? Well, if you crunch the numbers you can quickly start to figure out whether banner advertising will work for you.

Let’s assume you’re allocating 15% of your ticket price to marketing activity. That means, for instance, you’re spending £2.25 on marketing each seat you sell at £15. Let’s also assume that each transaction on your booking page sells two tickets to your show on average, which means you can afford to spend up to £4.50 on a click through that results in a sale.

The important bit of that previous paragraph is the click through that results in a sale. That’s your ‘conversion rate’. Not every visit from a banner click is going to result in a sale (although you can do a lot to improve your conversion rate – more of that below). A good ‘landing page’ for your banner ads can convert up to 20% of the traffic you deliver to it. A bad one can be more like 1%. Landing pages are important.

You'll have a list of variables which you can use to work out whether the advertising deal you’re looking at is worthwhile. Every show is different. Your set of variables will be unique to your production, but the basic formula remains the same. Here’s a calculator which will show you whether the deal is good or not – roll over the input fields for a description of what the acronyms stand for.

The Online Banner Calculator


Change any of the numbers above as appropriate for your production. A message box will display when you tab out of the input box. Obviously your goal is to spend no more than your budget on selling each seat. After checking a few of the published banner rate cards out there on the internet, most put your cost of acquiring a sale higher than the entire ticket price. Not a good situation to be in. For instance, with our example of a £15 ticket price and 15% marketing budget; a good 20% conversion rate with two tickets sold per transaction and you buy banners on a site with a focused 0.3% click through, you still can't spend any more than £2.70 per thousand banners or you've blown your budget.

Google, Facebook, Twitter

You may be thinking Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major properties would be the best options since their traffic is so huge and cost per thousand so low. However, you'll normally get very limited exposure for any CPM bids under $1 (75p) and the click through rate can be as low as 0.05% (ie, you'd have to show 2000 banners to get 1 click). Put those numbers into the calculator for our example show and you're spending £1.50 more than your budget allows.

With Google, Facebook and Twitter ads, the best strategy would be to bid on clicks (CPC), not views (CPM), to get around the often appalling click through rate. However, targeting is key on all those sites, and if your terms or filters don't match exactly the audience you're looking for you'll be paying a lot for people to visit your landing page who have no intention of buying. Google, Facebook and Twitter ads can work, but if terms the CTR, CPC or tracking code are all new to you, avoid it for now.

How To Get Better Results

Your Banners

You’d be surprised how often we’ve seen banner artwork that doesn’t tell you anything about the show. This is not the time to be esoteric. You’ll get better click throughs if your banner clearly tells the audience what the show is. Animation is a good option as it’s both eye catching and allows you to fit more information into the limited space available. Avoid Adobe Flash though, recent trends in visitor stats show that up to 30% of traffic on the internet comes from iOS devices that don’t support it. Don’t ignore a third of your potential audience.

Your Landing Page

Increasing your conversion rate is key to a successful campaign. Think carefully about where you want to send those clicks. It’s easy to send that traffic to your website homepage or the booking page, but that may not be your best option. Think about the person clicking your banner – they’re interested, but unlikely to be ready just to choose a date they want to go (hint – linking direct to TicketWeb’s list of available performances is a no-no). Your landing page is like your electronic flyer – give them all the details about the show and clearly signpost them to online booking. Better still, allow them to book on the same page. The fewer clicks between the landing page and ticket confirmation, the less chance of checkout abandonment.

Multiplying The Click

Buying tickets to a show is an event people are far more likely to share with friends than, say, buying a pint of milk. Therefore, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to share their purchase with their social networks. Put customised ‘share’ buttons on the checkout confirmation page to enable your customers to add a message like ‘I just bought tickets for X’ – and if your web developer is au fait with the Facebook API, include an image of your poster. Social sharing will get you much higher rates of click throughs than your original banner campaign, so it's worth the effort.

Email Marketing

Sending your flyer as an HTML email is becoming increasingly popular and there are any number of publications and organisations out there that will happily rent you their subscriber lists. Just like banner advertising there are some gotchas though, so crunch your numbers before you book the campaign.

Lists are generally advertised by subscriber size, however the big variable in email marketing is what’s called the ‘open rate’ – basically, the average number of emails that are sent to the subscriber base that are actually opened. The industry average for entertainment emails according to MailChimp (one of the big email list handlers) is 20%. That means 80% of the subscriber base will never see your email, possibly because those go straight to a spam folder or the lists are not as ‘clean’ as the publisher would hope.

Even when the recipient has opened your email, you still need them to click through to your landing page, although thankfully averages for click through rates are better than banners at about 2.5%. With these variables in mind, here’s another formula which can help you figure out whether a list is worth renting.

The Email List Calculator


Most publishers use a mailing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, so will have their ‘opens’ and click through rate. Ask for it before you assume a deal is a good one.

What We’ve Done At Broadway Baby

Before writing this article, our banner rates were similar to many other online arts publications at around the mid-£20 area per thousand. However, this is clearly unrealistic for our core market with the numbers they are working with, so we dropped our prices to match the reality. Our 300px x 250px MPU banners on Broadway Baby are now just £1.80 per 1000. 728px x 90px Leaderboards now just £2 per thousand. We think this is great news for our advertisers, opening up online advertising that actually works for the vast majority of shows.

Obviously that means we’re working on incredibly slim margins so we’ve had to implement a couple of new policies in order to make this viable. Firstly, we require all banner transactions to take place online – the reality is every email enquiry or phone call has a cost, so the only way to make this possible via automation. Also, because our payment provider, PayPal, has a fixed minimum charge, we require a minimum order of 10,000 banners.

We limit the amount of banners available on a monthly basis so as not to sell banner impressions that won’t be viewed, so with this new pricing we encourage you to place your banner orders early before they all sell out.

We don't offer a rental of our email databases. We review this on a regular basis, but we're currently of the opinion that the small amount of revenue possible from doing so is not worth spamming our visitors with unwanted email.

How to Advertise with Broadway Baby

For online advertising - do it online! Simply click here to visit our online banner booking page.

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