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Ben Flavel, co-founder of CheckinLine, says his company's technology represents “a new form of data collection”. Photo: CheckInLine

The internet is changing everything, including the wait in line to buy footy tickets.

That's the idea behind Melbourne company CheckinLine, which gets fans waiting to buy tickets for a concert or sporting event to “check in” each day over a week period.

Those who answer questions about their opinions and tastes get first dibs on the best tickets.

The data gleaned from the process yields a goldmine of customer information for organisations such as the Collingwood Football Club, which has trialled the system, and Sportsbet, which has signed up to use the so-called “gamification” technology.

“We're hoping this research will help us better understand the type of content our fans love and what they hate,” said Sportsbet spokesman Shaun Anderson.

Gamification technology has been used by Commonwealth Bank which has sites geared towards children to teach them about saving. Online teaching site Mathletics motivates school-aged kids to learn maths through animation, goal setting and certificates.

Overseas, US company Badgeville sells gamification technology to businesses that use its levels and rewards systems on their sites to build new audiences and grow revenue. Kiip, a mobile app, inserts real-world discounts and rewards as prizes into online games.

The way of the internet

Ben Flavel, co-founder of CheckinLine, said the technology represents “a new form of data collection” that uses subjective questions rather than requests for personal details. “To collect data this way online is more in tune with the way of the internet,” he said.

The technology essentially creates a captive audience over a seven-day period. “It's very much designed for brands to tune into what their passionate consumers are saying about them,” he said. The company has produced a Facebook app and has received interest from groups as far away as the San Francisco Giants baseball team in the US and Tickets.com, also the US.

In a test run for Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, 50 people waiting for tickets were given this scenario by CheckinLine: "Etihad Stadium has just sent you the most awesome Medallion Club season ticket offer the planet has ever seen. Who are you most likely to discuss this with before deciding whether to take up the deal?"

In response, most people said they would ask if their friends could buy the tickets. Some said they would talk to their boss about the chance of using tickets to entertain clients. Others said they would talk with fellow board members to see if further ticket purchases could be covered by a company budget.

From those responses, a composite picture of consumers' backgrounds and interests can be built and used by the venue to better target their core audience.

The fallacy of sunken cost

CheckinLine operates in part on the principle that the longer people wait in line, the longer they are prepared to wait, in what is known as the "fallacy of sunken cost”, said Rob Chandler, head of marketing sciences at Sydney advertising and marketing agency BMF.

"Ultimately, by waiting we feel more committed to something, so behaviourally we're more likely to follow through with it,” he said.

Mr Chandler, who has overseen gamification strategies for CBA, said self-selection of those waiting in the queue reaffirms a waiting person's status in the world. For example, fans of electronic music group Metronomy would derive satisfaction from being grouped with other fans of the British band.

The right incentive

Gamifying behaviour has been used by companies elsewhere. In 2010, trendy Japanese retailer Uniqlo allowed customers to preregister for a sale by posting on Twitter or Facebook. Customers tweeting about the event were eligible to win discounts.

The company organised 2.1 million Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese customers in a virtual line ahead of a sale which set a one-day record for the company.

Gamification isn't bound to the internet. In 2010, Volkswagen together with the Swedish National Society for Road Safety created a "Speed Camera Lottery" in which motorists whose cars were photographed going under the speed limit were entered into a lottery to win money.

Over three days, the program got drivers to lower their speed by an average of 22 per cent to 25kmh in one urban stretch of Stockholm.

In the case of online ticketing, gamifying the process may win new fans frustrated with website crashes when events go on sale, said Steven Noble, publisher of Wollongong tech start-up review Hack the Gong.

Last year ticketing website Moshtix crashed after it was overwhelmed by demand for tickets to the Splendour in the Grass festival. In April Ticketek's website crashed amid a flood of orders for tickets to a Prince concert.

“Because the (online ticketing process) is broken there is a natural incentive for customers to give away something in exchange for the opportunity to go into an earlier lottery to buy tickets,” he said.