When Ticketmaster began selling tickets on the Internet two years ago, company officials began touting the idea of using digital models to let people see what kind of a view they were buying. After all, a two-dimensional seating chart can't tell fans how well they'll be able to see Shaq or whether a pole will block their view of U2.
By early October, the ticketing giant plans to roll out a new application on its Web site that promises to give people a sneak peek: digital models of concert and sporting event centers.
The process is simple. Go to the Web site and pick a section with available seats. Click on the section and a window pops up with an image of what the customer would see from that particular area.
Eighty venues across the nation--including the Great Western Forum, Madison Square Garden, the United Center of Chicago, the Arrowhead Pond and Edison International Field in Anaheim--are included in the project's initial roll-out. Small theaters or venues with ornate interiors use still photographs to convey the viewer's perspective. But three-dimensional computerized models have been created of the stadiums and larger concert halls.
Created by Marina del Rey-based 3Name3D, these images allow ticket buyers to look up and down, and move around the digitized venue. "This is what our customers want," said Alan Citron, president of USA Networks Interactive, the parent company of Ticketmaster Multimedia.
It's also what Ticketmaster needs--as well as the venues themselves--to expand its online marketing capabilities. Like reality, each of the tiny electronic venues has banners splayed across scoreboards and back walls--empty advertising space up for grabs. Up next: Customizing the ads for each event and, possibly, for each ticket buyer.
P.J. Huffstutter covers high technology for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7830 and at email@example.com.