A few days ago ReedPOP announced a new “Fan Verification” system for buying tickets for NYCC. ReedPOP head Lance Fensterman told us the system was in order to combat scalping, but also to get more of a snapshot of who wants to attend New York Comic-Con.
Getting “verified” is key because online sales is the only way to buy NYCC badges this year. In the past there were some on site and retail sales but no more.
ReedPOP has gradually been making a lot of their registration procedures a bit more strenuous – nothing shocking, just more questions about work and outlets for pros and press, for instance. (I’d love to know more about the exhibitor procedures so if anyone has info on that send it along.) While none of this is a deal killer, I suppose it is a bit of a “thinning of the herd” process in that a few people, like Roller Girl in Boogie Nights, will just throw down their pencils in unease and go off to become porn stars. The fact is too many people want to go to New York Comic Con! The herd must be thinned!
I was curious as to what Fan Verification would entail so I signed up. And here’s what I found:
The real nitty gritty of this is that you need a cel phone that gets texts in order to buy a ticket and that your mobile number is the real ID number here. I suppose it’s ludicrous to assume that there may be anyone who attends NYCC or who is alive and breathing at this moment who doesn’t have a cel phone, but if that unicorn exists, they must know someone who does own a phone, so this is only a minor hurdle.
That said, if this wasn’t as journalistic exercise, I would have stopped right there, as I don’t really like giving out my phone number for vague reasons. I don’t need tickets to NYCC as I have a press pass (I hope – no official confirmation yet) but I did press on. For the children.
The next screen asks for the usual name and address as well as gender (self identify is an option) and age. There were also a few general but mandatory questions about what you wanted to see at NYCC and your favorite topics.
As you can see from these screencaps, the categories are very well defined among the many areas of pop culture that NYCC covers. If you are reading this site, I assume, that like me, you put “COMICS!!!” as your number one interest.
Sorry this one got cut off, it’s “Which one of the following show features is your top reason for attending NYCC?”
PSSSST – TYPO ALERT. It takes one to know one.
Once you’ve given them all the demo info, you’re asked how many tickets you want to buy. I guess that’s to give an idea of how many millions will slam into the website when the on sale date is announced.
And that’s it! Now just waiting for that email which will give you the link to buy tickets and the resulting lottery.
NYCC’s new system is a little like San Diego Comic-Con’s Member ID system, in that both give the shows access to a huge potential customer base. I’ve heard that SDCC has issued nearly a million Member IDs; however they know that each one is not necessarily a person who tries to attend every year. To get a Member ID all you need is an email, and then you actually get an ID and password which you use for all CCI related activity, including shows like WonderCon. It’s pretty simple and unobjectionable.
NYCC’s system is a more complicated and stringent, based as it is, on cel phone numbers. If you’ve been attending NYCC, you know that it’s become one giant marketing extravaganza, with brands from Tervis to Chevy to Progressive using the show floor as a kill jar for consumer sampling and outreach. All of this “fan data” is obviously worth a lot of money, and the question isn’t WILL this demographic info be used in marketing efforts, but HOW will it be used in marketing efforts.
Just as an aside, ReedPOP’s parent company, RELX (or Reed Elsevier as it was formerly known) owns LexisNexis and many other data companies. So using data is in their DNA. In the past this led to a few missteps, including 2013’s social media faux pas in which RFID info was used to send positive tweets on users behalf without their knowledge. Hopefully, everyone has learned that particular lesson.
I’m not trying to paint this as something sinister, BTW, just mentioning how even something as carefree and fun as NYCC is really just an excuse for data mining, just like company reward programs, Facebook and hell, just surfing the internet. CCI’s own data bank is a potential goldmine, but as a non-profit they don’t have an incentive to leverage that asset yet.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.