The purpose of this paper is to determine the influence that newspaper, blog and social media sources of information about a play have on respondents’ willingness to purchase a ticket to a theatrical production.
Respondents saw two advertisements and one review for theatrical productions. The authors randomly varied the version of each advertisement and review so that information regarding the production appeared to originate from a newspaper, blog or social media site. The authors asked respondents to rate the professionalism of the review and advertisements and how likely they were to purchase a ticket. The authors also collected demographic information.
The authors found that newspapers, blogs and social media had similar influence on respondents’ willingness to purchase a ticket. Respondents also viewed the blog-based play review as being as professional as the review from a newspaper. However, respondents were more likely to say they would purchase a ticket to a well-known play than a new play. Female respondents were more willing to purchase a play ticket.
Implications for marketers include the usefulness of non-traditional media (e.g. blogs, social media) in promoting a play – especially for new plays. Theater critics will find that their opinions are equally influential, regardless of whether the medium of publication is traditional (e.g. a newspaper) or digital (e.g. a blog). Principal limitations are the artificiality of a true experiment and an overly simplistic pricing method in the study.
Professionals selling tickets to theatrical productions should use favorable quotes and responses from social media and blogs when marketing tickets because audience members trust that these sources of information as much as newspapers. Internet-based theater critics should appreciate that they are perceived as being as reputable as newspaper-based critics.
Research on theater advertising is extremely limited (especially outside of Broadway), as are studies on the influence of theater critics. The study adds to this meager body of research and provides needed practical guidance to theater marketers.
This study was funded by a Grant for Engaged Learning Quick Grant at Utah Valley University.
Warne, R.T. and Drake-Brooks, M.M. (2016), "Comparing the persuasiveness and professionalism of newspaper, blog, and social media sources of information in marketing and reviewing theatre", Arts and the Market, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 166-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAM-03-2015-0004
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