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Josh Ross, CEO of Humanitix, on how the non-profit ticketing platform survived their industry grinding to a halt

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Joshua Ross (Right) and Adam McCurdie, Co-CEOs and Co-Founders of Humanitix.

By Guest Author: Joshua Ross, CEO and Co-Founder at Humanitix

It was 2am. My eyes were red from hours of staring at the daily ticket sales. Our hockey-stick graph had been rising unstoppably over the past few years but had just plummeted down a cliff. I wasn’t surprised – events were suddenly banned all around the world because of the virus. As I stared at the dropping numbers, there was one big question on my mind: “Could we still fund the girls’ education?”

Humanitix started with the mission of closing the education gap for the 400 million kids around the world who aren’t getting fair access to education. We’re a charity with a unique twist – instead of asking for donations, we run an event ticketing platform and put 100% of the profits from booking fees toward our education programs, which are delivered around the world by partners like Room To Read.

Event organisers love that it doesn’t cost them any extra to give their event an incredible impact, and it becomes another reason for their guests to get excited about the event. A single dollar can fund a child’s education for a day. A single football match funded two years of education for disadvantaged girls. A party at a bar on New Years Eve funded a scholarship for an Indigenous Student. Every ticket counts.

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Being a tech-charity makes for an unusual combination. We operate like a Silicon Valley scale-up, investing heavily in an incredible product and ticketing experience. The difference is that we’re a charity and we can’t take on investors. This makes us work even harder to maintain a healthy profit margin so we can donate our profits to the kids.

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So when the event industry stopped in March this year, we knew we had to find a way through. Kids were depending on it.

I was in San Francisco with my Co-founder and Co-CEO Adam McCurdie when events started getting cancelled. First, it was the big events – festivals and conferences with more than 500 guests. Then governments around the world restricted events to 100 people at most. Then 10.

The next thing we knew, we were rushing for a flight back to our headquarters in Sydney, Australia, scrambling to get there before the borders closed.

No events meant no tickets, no ticket booking fees, and no funding for our education programs. Adam and I put our heads together – we were heading back to face a crisis.

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By the time we landed, we had a plan. There would be three phases to the event industry’s experience of the crisis.

First, was managing the heartache of so many cancelled events. While other ticketing companies slashed their staff numbers, our whole team worked overtime. Many were on the phone to event organisers late into the night, many of whom were in tears as they pulled the plug on events they’d been working toward for months. Their role had suddenly expanded from advisor to counsellor. Meanwhile, Adam and I fielded calls from government agencies, making sure they knew how tough event organisers had it.

The second phase was about getting events online. Event organisers had booked incredible talent, speakers and entertainers. Guests were still excited. We just had to connect them throughout the lockdowns.

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Within days the Humanitix dev team was rolling out new capabilities for online events, including connecting to Facebook’s Virtual Events API. The connection was a hit, letting event organisers instantly share their events with their community online. Our team created guides on running digital events, and provided guidance to event organisers that had suddenly discovered the hope that comes with running an online event.

We knew that connecting with Facebook’s Virtual Events API would make a big difference. In 2019 we integrated with Facebook Events, allowing our event organisers to create a Facebook event from their Humanitix event with just one click. The extra reach on events meant that ticket sales grew massively, in turn driving donations.

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In the six month period in which we connected with Facebook events, funding for our education programs grew an enormous 165%.

Finally, we recognised that lockdowns wouldn’t last forever. Humans crave connection, and events are perfect for that. Our job is to explore the incredible opportunities that will come with recovery. This isn’t the time for us to go dormant, it’s the time for us to make our product better than ever and get closer to our customers.

The event organisers we speak to tell us that with many events postponed by months, they’ve suddenly discovered that their tight deadlines have relaxed, giving them the opportunity to try new things. There is a huge amount of pent-up creative energy in the events industry right now. When events come back, they’ll be more incredible than ever, with more events blending their online/offline experiences to reach more people around the world. And many, many more of them will be on Humanitix, giving their events an incredible impact.

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On all those tickets, booking fees will help close the education gap for kids around the world.

We can’t wait.

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Josh Ross is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Humanitix.
Humanitix is the not-for-profit ticketing platform that gives events impact. They make event management a breeze and give 100% of the profits from booking fees to education projects, such as literacy programs for young girls. It’s an incredible feeling to announce in your marketing or at your event that you’ve funded the education of disadvantaged kids – and it becomes another reason guests flock to your events. Powering thousands of events, and backed by Google and Atlassian, Humanitix is making every ticket count.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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