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Viagogo back on Google after advertising ban lifted

In a blow to anti-ticket touting campaigners, Google is once again accepting advertising from Viagogo in a majority of territories

By Jon Chapple on 26 Nov 2019

Viagogo is pushing tickets for Lewis Capaldi’s 2020 arena tour via Google ads

Viagogo is pushing tickets for Lewis Capaldi’s 2020 arena tour via Google ads

image © Capitol Music Group

Just four months after its indefinite suspension from Google Ads, Viagogo’s ads once again appear at the top of Google’s search results for some of the biggest upcoming shows, after the ban was quietly lifted last week.

The controversial secondary ticketing giant – which yesterday announced its acquisition of chief rival StubHub for over US$4 billion – was banned from advertising on Google globally in July following pressure from the live music industry and consumer-rights groups, leading to a reported 70% reduction in website traffic.

The decision to prevent Viagogo from paying its way to the top of the Google’s search results came after the search engine removed more than 2bn ads found to be in breach of its policies or the law in the previous 12 months, IQ reported at the time. In 2017, Google updated its AdWords policy to force secondary sites to be clearer on pricing and prevent them from posing as official sellers, among other measures.

The suspension was hailed as a “landmark moment” by anti-ticket touting campaigners, with Adam Webb of FanFair Alliance describing it as “a major step forward [in] preventing exploitation of audiences in the secondary ticketing market”.

While many in the industry put little stock in Viagogo’s promises that it would work to have the suspension lifted “as quickly as possible” – one campaigner says they hoped the ban would be permanent – the Swiss-based company is already back to advertising on Google Ads globally, with the exception of countries whose regulators have not yet told Google they are satisfied Viagogo is in compliance with local law (at present, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Slovakia and Taiwan).

Viagogo has agreed to not advertise in the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Slovakia and Taiwan

A spokesperson for Viagogo tells IQ that, “after having worked closely with them [Google] in the background”, the site’s ads were reinstated last week. “The company has worked closely with Google and is pleased with this outcome.”

With the exception of the seven territories listed above, IQ understands Viagogo is now deemed to be in compliance with the following Google criteria:

  • To cease advertising where doing so breaches the law, and come into compliance with local legal and regulatory requirements, including ensuring that all consumer warnings issued by official authorities are appropriately remediated
  • Make clear the total ticket price at the beginning of the customer journey, as well as separating out the fees, as is required by the Google Ads event ticket sales policy
  • Make clear any applicable delivery fees
  • Make clear that tickets subject to resale restrictions may not provide access to the event (the full disclaimer, approved by the UK’s CMA and also used in other territories, reads: “Please note that your ticket may be invalid for entry to the event. It’s only in rare cases that customers have been refused entry to events similar to this, although those events may not have had resale restrictions. You will be protected by our guarantee if you attempt entry and are refused. That’s our promise – enjoy the event.”)
  • Cease advertising tickets for resale where resale is “legitimately prohibited
  • Cease claiming that tickets are valid when organisers and event promoters find them invalid

“The company has worked closely with Google and is pleased with this outcome”

It is understood Google’s decision to reinstate Viagogo ads is not related to the company’s takeover of StubHub, which reportedly came as news to Google execs yesterday.

At press time, searches for which Viagogo advertisements appear at the top of Google search results in the UK (where IQ is based) include “the 1975 tickets”, “Billie Eilish tickets”, “Madonna tickets”, “Rod Stewart tickets”, “Travis Scott tickets”, “Lewis Capaldi tickets” and “Diana Ross tickets”.

Lewis Capaldi tickets Viagogo search result

In a statement, a Google spokesperson says: “Any advertiser can appeal a suspension, and if we find that they have made appropriate changes to their account they may be eligible for reactivation.

“We still continue to enforce our policies and we will take action against ads or accounts that violate our policies.”


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