Is Your Mobile Application Lifting Your Online Ticket Sales?

This content relates to : DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION


For deadline-driven purchases (e.g., event tickets), the best conversion rate, i.e., search to purchase, is for PC-only web path followed by mobile-only web path.

If a user is not on a PC-only search path, a mobile-only search path and a PC-to-mobile switched path have better conversion rates than mobile-to-PC switching between search sessions.

While mobile tends to be used with last minute impulse purchases, advance searches on mobile result in higher purchase conversion than late mobile searches.

Meheli Basu

Syracuse University

Organizations design applications and pages optimized for mobile but know little of how the use of a mobile device alters user behavior compared to desktops. Marketers dedicate resources to minimize search effort given mobile device limitations and then promote mobile channels with high acquisition costs per install, registration, and in-app purchases. The question arises: Is it worth it to push traffic to mobile? This research examines conversion rates on mobile versus desktop for deadline-driven purchases (viz., event tickets) to see how the consumer’s choice of device in the digital path to purchase influences conversion rates. Deadline-driven purchases have more rigid time constraints and have to be made within a strict time-line, such as tickets for sports, events, hotel and airline reservations, among others. Therefore, we answer three questions:

  1. Does mobile use improve purchase conversion for ticket sales? 
  1. Which device path yields maximum purchase conversion likelihood? Use of PC for all search sessions? Use of mobile for all search sessions? Switching from PC in the previous session to mobile in the final user session? Switching from mobile in the previous session to PC in the final user session?  
  1. Is use of mobile in the purchase session correlated with purchase (dollar sales) volume? 

We examine three years (Jan 2015 to May 2017) of user sessions on StubHub, a dominant online ticket exchange portal, for search and purchase of a Power 5 university’s sports tickets. Tickets are listed for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball for home games. The device type in the meta data for each session includes PC, smartphone and tablet. We categorize smartphone and tablet into mobile device types and contrast purchase likelihood on these devices with that on PC. Detailed search and purchase data is examined to understand consumer search behavior and how the path to (non) purchase differs between devices.

We supplement the above study with an online experiment to understand what impedes purchase conversion on mobile. Specifically, drawing from existing literature, we want to examine whether inconvenience of in-depth search on mobile affecting serious searches on the mobile device impeded purchase conversion or is conversion affected more by the risk of purchase on mobile arising from location tagging and information tracking?  

Using a conditional mixed model approach, we find the conversion rate for web paths where the user has searched on PC in every online session are higher than paths involving only a mobile device for search. Purchase likelihood significantly decreases with device switching between online sessions. We find higher purchase rates for users switching from PC in the previous session to mobile device in the final user session than for the reverse. Experimentally, we demonstrate that lower perceived convenience during search on mobile impedes the use of mobile by consumers in the context of deadline-driven online purchase decisions. However, device switching leads to higher sales volume when a purchase is made, presenting a trade-off between conversion rate and sales volume. 


Meheli Basu

Assistant Professor, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University

To learn more, read: 

Marketing Science Institute Working Paper Series, Report no. 19-124, “The Impact of Device Used In Digital Paths on Deadline-Driven Purchase Decisions”, Meheli Basu, J.Jeffrey Inman, Kirk Wakefield;