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Arts and entertainment

Sotheby’s, IFTTT build integrated network for auction customers

March 31, 2017

Brice Marden's "Cold Mountain Series, Zen Study 1-6" was included in Sotheby's March 2 auction


Auction house Sotheby’s is building a highly in-tuned audience and notifying consumers of relevant happenings via an online platform partnership.

Through a partnership with the IoT platform IFTTT, Sotheby’s is allowing customers to customize notification settings so they can stay up to date with what is happening in the auction community. The platform integrates with major applications and other platforms, allowing users to set up a personalized experience for each app based on preference.

"There are a variety of people in the art market who track auction results very closely, but who have been relying on inefficient and labor-intensive methods to do so," said John Peebles, senior vice president of digital marketing department at Sotheby’s, New York. "IFTTT offers a number of options that will help those users customize and automate the information they are most interested in."

Managing IoT
IFTTT helps consumers manage their digital devices and tailor the experience they want based on their preferences. Sotheby’s partnership will allow auction customers to tailor notifications from the auction house through almost all platforms.

The platform allows users to manage and turn on various applets for different platforms.

Sotheby's page on IFTTT

For Sotheby’s the capability spans multiple apps and platforms to accomplish tasks such as receiving notifications regarding upcoming auctions nearby, follow a specific item or category and stay up to date on auction news.

For instance, IFTTT allows Sotheby’s audience to turn an applet for a weekly email about contemporary art from Sotheby’s, get a Google spreadsheet that tracks Sotheby’s auction sales or automatically add nearby Sotheby’s auctions to a Google Calendar.

"Everything is becoming a service —  lights, appliances, stores, toys, television channels, etc. It's cool to see Sotheby's undertake this transformation," said Linden Tibbets, CEO and co-founder, IFTTT, San Francisco. "They have such an amazing pedigree, yet they realized there was this whole new audience that was out of their reach.

"Their Applets have removed old barriers. Anyone in the world can turn one on and suddenly have access into this world of art, culture, design, history -- all through Sotheby's. Users can personalize what types of updates they want to get and how (like over text, email, notification). It's almost like having an art-scene insider in their back pocket."

Sotheby’s has its own dedicated page on the IFTTT platform on which consumers can opt in for these services or turn them off.

IFFTTT can be accessed on mobile devices as well as desktop.

Sotheby's IFTTT applet

To use or turn off an applet, users simply select the on button or off button and IFTTT will automatically start or stop the service.

Sotheby’s strategies
Auction house Sotheby’s also recently its presence in the Middle East with the opening of a gallery and office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Over the past five years, the number of Middle Eastern clientele buying from Sotheby’s has grown 30 percent. While buyers in the region have enthusiastically embraced Sotheby’s online sales, having this physical location will give the auctioneer a space to engage with prospective collectors face-to-face (see more).

Private aviation firm Sentient Jet extended its member benefits into the arts through an affiliation with the auction house as well.

As Sotheby’s preferred aviation partner in North America, Sentient is able to offer its cardholders access to events and private previews. Expanding into other aspects of hospitality and experiences will help Sentient further its brand positioning and customer (see more).

"Our central goal is to help clients, collectors and connoisseurs receive the information they want from Sotheby’s in whatever format is most convenient for them," said Mr. Peebles of Sotheby's. "So if a client wants to hear about new works by Picassos through email, new Rodin sculptures through text messages and collect results of furniture sales in Evernote — now they can."