Search Scrum: Paid Search Marketing Optimization | Round Barn Labs

Behind the Curtain: RBL Exceeded LiveNation's Goal by 45%

April 15, 2020

Paid Marketing
Tye DeGrange

Background & Challenge:

Live Nation is one of the world's leading concert promotion companies. After merging with Ticketmaster in 2009, the company promotes, operates, and manages ticket sales for live entertainment. It also owns and operates entertainment venues, and manages the careers of music artists.

RBL collaborated with Live Nation’s paid marketing team to promote Las Vegas residencies featuring the following artists:

Artists left to right: Gwen Stefani, Queen and Back Street Boys
Artists left to right: Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Florida Georgia Line

Tye DeGrange (CEO and Growth Marketer) provided resourcing, strategy, and marketing channel mix counsel and Mike McElhaney (VP of Paid Marketing) ran point on the entire project. Mike utilized a variety of technical tools to build, manage and optimize a multi-channel paid marketing campaign. As you will see from the results, he did an amazing job building a sustainable paid marketing growth engine supporting Live Nation’s customer acquisition objectives on Google Ads: Search, Programmatic Display, and Video utilizing Live Nation’s first party data with LiveRamp. We were also able to test a fairly new channel called GumGum that specializes in native ad placement using AI across premium ad networks.

We built out a Marketing Channel Analysis, assessed the existing tech stack, audited tracking, and built out a media plan to boost ticket sales at a critical time for Live Nation’s premier artist residencies in Las Vegas. Residencies of this kind present unique challenges and opportunities to promote in that they have a long sales cycle and are destination events for most attendees. As a result the team needed to utilize a blend of creativity, customer insights, and quantitative data to ensure campaigns were set up for success.


We utilized Airtable to build out a detailed onboarding and tracking system to keep track of the various projects and live dates to ensure that each campaign was tracked down to the last penny.

Here is a snapshot of the dashboard:

As you can see from the example above we built out an organized space for each Live Nation artist. This Gwen Stafani example included campaigns, ad groups/sets, tracking parameters, and even customer persona information to ensure focus on the needs of prospective concert goers by artist and genre so that all people involved had full visibility on what was planned and what was happening.

For each campaign we took into account the available first party data for the artist and similar artists that we could leverage, using Live Ramp’s audience matching technology. The ability to utilize this first party data across all channels was essential to the success of these campaigns.

We prioritized budget and channel allocation against the expected return on ad spend at specific points of the sales cycle. This allowed us to make the budget work harder over a longer sales cycle that peaks at the beginning and specific points closer to the event dates. This was especially true in the case of Queen as the release of the trailer for their biopic Bohemian Rhapsody caused a surge of interest and search volume for the band.

RBL optimized for Live Nation’s North Star Metric of Ticket Sales and utilized this to stack rank tests based on the ICE framework: 1) Impact (toward ticket sales) 2) Cost 3) Effort. While ticket sales were primary we also took into consideration Awareness and Consideration. This approach is especially necessary with residencies that span over extremely long periods of time.

We provided a detailed weekly report showing what had the greatest immediate impact on the new markets being launched. In addition, we reviewed the impact that individual creative units were having against our campaign objectives.

Tech stack

Oh and don’t forget about

We utilized and tested each of the available YouTube Ad options testing both :15 and :30 second videos.

Display Creative Examples


We ran a number of micro and macro tests over the course of a 5 month period within the overall duration of the work. This engagement prioritized volume of sales over regular testing and learnings and therefore did not require the level of micro tests we typically see. There are also artist and company limitations on variants we could run given they had slots of pre-approved ad creative. We provided input on creative and landing pages, but given the primary objective was to drive ticket sales during the specific campaigns we focused on getting the most efficient distribution for said assets over a volume of tests.

Why Does This Matter? How is this different?

RBL provided a multi-disciplinary approach managing Google Ads Search, Video and Programmatic Display with first-party audience data exceeding client goals and expectations. We provided speed, responsiveness, volume, and quality for Live Nation allowing them to focus on other areas of their business.


Live Nation saw some of their best results ever for Las Vegas residencies as a result of the work with Mike and the RBL team. We were grateful to help and continue to build out expertise working with events, sports, and music ticketing clients like StubHub, AXS/AEG, and Live Nation.

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