StubHub gets personal with updated mobile app

The marketplace for buying and selling sports and concert tickets hopes to expand its mission to become a resource for finding and planning for events.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

An image of the updated StubHub app, which will include new artist pages. StubHub

StubHub wants to get to know you better.

The company, which provides a secondary marketplace for fans and venues to buy and sell tickets to Broadway shows, football games and concerts, shook up its mobile app Wednesday to offer more personalization features so it can recommend future events. The change marks the start of a dramatic strategic overhaul as the company seeks to build a better connection with its user and make itself a resource for discovering and planning for events.

"I hope that people look to StubHub for the place to start looking for what to do this weekend," Parag Vaish, the company's director of product management and head of mobile, said in an interview Wednesday. "Right now it's a very disparate set of tools to answer that question."

In an effort to gain a bigger role in people's planning for special events and weekend activities, the company, owned by eBay, added information from a handful of new partners. Now, people using StubHub's refreshed app can listen to snippets of Ariana Grande songs from Apple's iTunes, read news stories and game stats on the Phillies from ESPN and get recommendations on restaurants and parking near venues from Foursquare -- all without leaving the app. Additionally, bar and restaurant recommendations from Yelp -- a feature that had been buried deep within StubHub -- will get highlighted much more in the updated app.

The refurbished Android and iOS mobile and tablet apps will be available starting Wednesday in the US, Canada and UK. StubHub is also starting to roll out a refreshed desktop website, which has a new look and will gain all the mobile apps' features over the next three months.

Before the update, its app and website had been used as an endpoint to buy tickets after someone has already decided which event they want to attend. That's meant that most users order tickets from StubHub just once a year, with the company needing to compete with sites offering similar services, such as SeatGeek, Ticketmaster's TM+ and Craigslist. StubHub is hoping all these extra features built around its marketplace will make it a much bigger part for people finding events and planning for them, which in turn could result in more sales on its platform.

"Frankly, we haven't done a great job revealing events to folks," Vaish said. "That's what this update is all about."

The app and desktop updates build on StubHub's work this year to push its service to mobile devices, with the firm offering digital tickets on smartphones and the Apple Watch for certain venues.

As part of the updated app, StubHub developed new personalization tools, allowing users to tell the company what kinds of events they are interested in seeing, focusing on specific artists, sports teams or venues. Adding to that, StubHub will now be able to recommend future events based on past ticket purchases and can start to offer notifications on users' phones for top weekend events in their cities.

Scores, team stats and top stories from ESPN will be part of new sports team pages and iTunes song snippets will be on new artist pages. User-generated recommendations from Yelp and Foursquare will add to StubHub's mission of becoming more than just a marketplace.

Vaish said StubHub's next step will be to work on improving its users' experiences while at events, though he declined for now to mention any specifics. Also, StubHub, which hired its first editor-in-chief last fall, plans to create more stories and artist interviews for its apps and website to help it draw in more users.

"We want to provide more information and better information to you while you're making your decision," Vaish said, "so you have a better experience when you go to the venue."