Tianxin Zou

Marketing professor receives prestigious research award from AMA

In the award-winning paper, Tianxin Zou explored if bans on paperless tickets, like those used by Ticketmaster which require consumers to show their IDs associated with the tickets to enter venues, actually protect consumers.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Tianxin Zou, John I. Williams, Jr. Assistant Professor of Marketing, is one of two winners of the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) Marketing Research Special Interest Group Don Lehmann Award for 2022.

The Lehmann Award was established in 1997 in honor or Professor Donald R. Lehmann, Professor of Marketing at Columbia University, and recognizes the best dissertation-based article published in the Journal of Marketing or Journal of Marketing Research. A three-member committee of world-renowned marketing scholars, including a former Marketing Science editor and a former Journal of Marketing Research editor, selected Zou’s paper as a co-winner out of 14 nominated papers. 

“I feel so thrilled because it is a high acknowledgement of my research quality as a junior scholar,” Zou said. “I am very thankful for the dedicated support from my advisor, Baojun Jiang, and from the Warrington College of Business.”

Zou’s award-winning paper “Integration of Primary and Resale Platforms,” was published in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2020. In the paper, Zou explored if bans on paperless tickets, like those used by Ticketmaster which require consumers to show their IDs associated with the tickets to enter venues, protect consumers.

If consumers want to resell their paperless tickets later, they have to resell on Ticketmaster to change the ID information in the database, instead of selling on competing resale platforms like StubHub, Zou explained.

“Paperless tickets effectively merge the primary ticket platform and competing resale platforms, leading to antitrust concerns since horizontal mergers typically raise prices and harm consumers,” Zou said. “Fifteen states in the U.S. have discussed or passed laws restricting or banning paperless tickets to protect consumers. Our paper asks whether banning paperless tickets could truly protect consumers as they were advocated.”

Based on Zou’s research, he found that contrary to legislators’ good intentions, banning paperless tickets may harm consumers and event organizers because the practice incentivizes Ticketmaster to raise its first-hand ticket commission.

“The antitrust impacts of merges between primary and resale platforms fundamentally differ from typical horizontal merges between two platforms, such as Walmart and Amazon,” Zou said. “The reason hinges on the interaction between the primary market and the resale market. If Ticketmaster lowers its firsthand-ticket commission, more consumers will buy firsthand tickets, leading to more resale transactions as there will be consumers finding themselves unable to attend the event later on.

“If Ticketmaster uses paperless tickets to control all resale transactions, it will have a strong incentive to expand the resale marketing by lowering the firsthand-ticket commission; But if Ticketmaster faces strong competition in the resale market, it would less likely do so.”

Zou joined the University of Florida in 2019 as a faculty member in the Warrington College of Business marketing department. At Warrington, Zou teaches marketing analytics to specialized master’s and MBA students.

His research investigates how new technologies and business models on the internet will reshape firms’ pricing and product strategies. In addition to the Lehmann Award, Zou received the Alessandro di Fiore Best Paper Award at the 9th Platform Strategy Research Symposium. Zou and co-author Bobby Zhou received the award for their paper, “Competing for Recommendations: Their Strategic Impact in Online Markets.”

Zou earned his Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis and his Bachelor of Science in mathematics and applied mathematics as well as his Bachelor of Arts in economics and finance at Tsinghua University.