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Global Google crackdown on ticket resellers

The updated AdWords policy, announced today, requires secondary ticketers to abide by a set of new regulations that prevent them from masquerading as official sellers

By Jon Chapple on 22 Nov 2017


image © Pixabay

Secondary ticketing websites will from January 2018 be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords, as the search engine giant cracks down on ticket resellers’ controversial gaming of its online advertising platform.

Under the new measures – which come on the back of UK politicians accusing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! of violating Google’s Adwords policies on misrepresentation, as well as recent research showing the extent of secondaries’ domination of Google search results – Google will include ticket resellers in its ‘other restricted businesses’ AdWords category, requiring them to be certified with Google before they can advertise through AdWords.

To apply for certification, resellers must agree to:

  • Inform customers that their prices may be higher than face value
  • Break down prices to show included fees and taxes during checkout, and before the customer provides payment information
  • List the face value of the tickets, along with the reseller’s price in the same currency (from March 2018)

The updated AdWords policy also prohibits secondary sellers from implying they are the “primary or original provider of event tickets” – a particular bone of contention with Viagogo, which is notorious for presenting itself on Google as an ‘official site’ for concert tickets – and mandates that they “disclose to customers that they are a reseller”.

“This is potentially a game-changer”

The new AdWords policy will apply globally, with resellers able to request certification from 8 January.

“This is potentially a game-changer,” Adam Webb, campaign manager at FanFair Alliance, tells IQ. “We have had a number of conversations with Google and their AdWords team, and we are delighted they have acted in such an assertive manner. It is a major step forward in cleaning up the secondary market.”

“This is fantastic news and we welcome this global change of policy on ticket resellers from Google,” adds Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum. “MMF and FanFair have long been calling for greater transparency in the resale market and we have been concerned that fans have been misled by the advertising practices of the secondary market.

“FanFair research has shown that search is a key driver of ticket sales, and this policy change to certify ticket resellers will help improve the ability of fans to understand who they are buying from and to avoid being ripped off by touts.”

“This is fantastic news, and we welcome this global change of policy from Google”

“This is a very welcome development, with potential to make the ticket-buying process far less complex for consumers,” reads a statement from FanFair. “The recent Ticked Off report highlighted that a significant proportion of would-be ticket buyers use Google as their first port of call, while FanFair’s own research has illustrated the extent to which Viagogo, StubHub and Get Me In! use paid search to dominate Google rankings.

“They make little indication that they are secondary ticketing platforms. As a result, fans have been systematically directed towards touted tickets, even when primary inventory is still available from authorised ticket sellers. We are pleased that Google have listened to concerns on this issue, and have acted in an assertive manner and on a global basis.

“We look forward to seeing further details – but this move should be a major step forward in cleaning up the secondary market, as we anticipate more regulatory and legislative action to come.”


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