Google sued in France for advertising resold tickets
A court in Paris has prohibited Google from selling keywords to advertisers, including Viagogo and StubHub, which (re)sell tickets without the promoter’s permission.
Ruling in favour of French live music association Prodiss, which brought the case against Google France and Google Ireland (Google’s European headquarters are in Dublin), the Judicial Court of Paris found Google liable for reputational damage to live entertainment professionals, noting that by accepting advertising from ticket resale sites, it may have given fans the false impression that rightsholders benefit from inflated secondary-market prices.
The Tribunal judiciaire additionally declared that Google had “undeniably participated” in facilitating unlawful resale “with full knowledge of the facts”.
Prodiss brought the lawsuit after noticing advertisements for tickets to shows by Rammstein, Drake and Metallica on sites including Viagogo.fr, StubHub.fr and Rocket-Ticket.com at, or near, the top of Google’s search results. In France, it is illegal to sell tickets without authorisation from the event organiser.
The court prohibited Google from allowing the purchase of ad keywords relating to the sale of tickets for shows in France
Google will have one month to act on the ruling, which will apply to all live shows taking place in France, including ticket retailers based elsewhere but selling tickets for French shows.
In the 15 October judgment, the court prohibited Google Ireland, which operates Google Ads (formerly AdWords), from allowing the purchase of advertising keywords relating to the sale of tickets for shows in France, unless the purchaser can prove that they have written authorisation from the rightsholder.
It also ordered Google to pay Prodiss €40,000 for in damages and an additional €20,000 under article 700 of the code of civil procedure (CPC).
In November, Google began accepting advertising from Viagogo once more after having previously banned the site from its AdWords platform.
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Viagogo back on Google after advertising ban lifted
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”.
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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“A landmark moment”: Viagogo banned from Google advertising
Google has suspended secondary ticketing site Viagogo as an advertiser indefinitely, following pressure from industry organisations, anti-tout groups and politicians.
The suspension means Viagogo will no longer be able to pay in order to appear at the top of Google’s global search rankings.
The ban, a Google spokesperson tells IQ, will apply globally with immediate effect. A statement from Viagogo’s PR firm says the Switzerland-based company is “extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns” and “look[s] forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible”.
The decision is the most significant step taken by the tech giant to prevent non-compliant secondary sites using its platform. In 2017, Google updated its AdWords policy to place closer scrutiny on secondary sites and prevent them from posing as official sellers, following pressure from UK politicians.
A 2017 IQ report found secondary ticketing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub and the defunct Seatwave were paying as much as 15 times more than promoters to appear at the top of Google’s sponsored search listings.
Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith said the most his company could afford to pay to boost their Google ranking was around £1 per click. Resale sites, on the other hand, can afford to “pay £10 [per click] if they’re making £500” on a ticket.
Trade body UK Music, the Football Association and MPs last year addressed the issue collectively, penning an open letter to the tech giant, urging it to stop allowing Viagogo to pay its way to the top of search rankings for tickets.
“This is a landmark moment, and a major step forward to preventing exploitation of audiences”
UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher reiterated the demand earlier this month, saying it was “high time Google stopped putting Viagogo at the top of their search engine” instead of directing them to “legitimate primary ticket sales.”
Commenting on today’s decision, Galbraith says he and Kilimanjaro are “very pleased to hear of Google’s decision to suspend Viagogo as an advertiser”.
“Literally thousands of customers have inadvertently come across Viagogo via Google advertising, and then suffer terrible experiences that result in them either significantly overpaying for tickets or not gaining access to shows,” he tells IQ. “We welcome the announcement and support Google’s decision.”
IQ understands Google removed around 2.3 billion ads that were in breach of its policies or the law last year alone.
“When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust,” reads a Google statement.
Google removed around 2.3 billion ads that were in breach of its policies or the law last year alone
“This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach.”
“This is a landmark moment, and a major step forward to preventing exploitation of audiences in the secondary ticketing market,” comments Adam Webb, campaign manager for anti-touting group FanFair Alliance.
“After publishing extensive research highlighting the impacts of Viagogo’s misleading search advertising, FanFair Alliance has been in constructive conversations with Google for over two years in an attempt to address this issue.
“We are delighted they have finally acted and suspended Viagogo’s advertising. We now hope other platforms, particularly Facebook, can follow Google’s example.”
The announcement comes following the decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to pursue legal action against the secondary site for repeated non-compliance with consumer law.
The watchdog maintains that, despite several warnings, Viagogo continues to mislead fans by providing incomplete information, in particular relating to the number of tickets available for events.
“We are delighted that Google is finally bowing to public pressure and taking action”
UK Music CEO Michael Dugher comments: “UK Music has long urged everyone to say no to Viagogo. We are delighted that Google is finally bowing to public pressure and taking action.
“Google is the first port of call when most music fans search for tickets and they have a responsibility to ensure [their] customers are not misled into paying over the odds for gigs and festivals.
“This is an important victory for campaigners including UK Music, FanFair Alliance, culture minister Margot James and cross-party MPs like Nigel Adams and Sharon Hodgson. This development and further legal proceedings against Viagogo marks a huge turning point in the battle to tackle exploitative touts.”
Sam Shemtob, director of the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), says Google’s decision is “a hugely significant step”.
In addition to the work by the CMA and the UK parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport committee, Shemtob highlights the efforts of FanFair Alliance, Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) and French live music industry association Prodiss, “who have been engaged in multiple conversations on the issue with Google, some of which date back to 2016.
“We hope other search engines and social media platforms will follow suit.”
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UK MPs urge Google action on Viagogo
The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, along with campaign group FanFair Alliance and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), has written to Google urging the web giant to stop taking advertising from what they describe as “one of the world’s least-trusted” brands, Viagogo.
In the letter, addressed to Google’s president of EMEA business and operations, Matt Brittin, and managing director in the UK and Ireland, Ronan Harris, the signatories highlight how, despite 2018 having seen “major progress in tackling online ticket touting” – and Google having “played an important part in his change” with its new certification system for ticket resellers – Viagogo still tops Google’s search listings for many high-profile shows.
The controversial secondary ticketing site is currently the subject of legal action by the Competition and Markets Authority for alleged breaches of consumer law, and last week once again snubbed a UK parliamentary inquiry at the 11th hour, leaving StubHub’s Wayne Grierson as the sole representative from the resale sector.
“We urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence”
With Viagogo believed to operating illegally in the UK, the letter suggests accepting advertising from Viagogo breaches Google’s own AdWords guidelines, which “state clearly that advertisers are expected ‘to comply with the local laws for any area that their ads target’”.
Speaking to IQ in June, a Google rep said the company does not comment on specific advertisers, but that it is committed to working with the music industry to protect consumers.
The letter is reproduced in full below:
Matt Brittin, President of EMEA Business & Operations
Ronan Harris, Managing Director UK and Ireland
1-13 St Giles High St,
Friday 7th September 2018
Dear Matt and Ronan,
This year has seen major progress in tackling online ticket touting.
Google has played an important part in this change. In February 2018, Google launched a new certification system for ticket resellers, with the aim of providing clearer information for consumers. However, Viagogo’s use of Google paid-for search to achieve prominence to consumers continues to concern all signatories to this letter, now more than ever.
On Friday August 31st, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) issued court proceedings against Viagogo for potential breaches of consumer protection law.
Last Wednesday (September 5th), Viagogo failed for the second time to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in an evidence session on secondary ticketing. The Committee’s Chair, Damian Collins MP, described this as a “pattern of evasion, disrespectful to the House and disrespectful to consumers.”
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, the truth will do you no harm,” he added. “If you want to be safe, do not buy tickets from Viagogo.”
Repeated research by FanFair Alliance has highlighted how Viagogo systematically tops Google results for tickets, even when primary inventory is still widely available or, most worryingly, when the tickets listed will be invalid for entry at the event.
This results in confusion, and risks your users clicking through to Viagogo unaware they are being transferred to a ticket reseller.
Working with the campaign group Victim of Viagogo, FanFair has helped many individuals who believe they were mis-sold tickets to claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds. The vast majority of these customers tell us they were led to Viagogo through Google search and unaware they were buying a resold ticket.
It is an untenable situation.
In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted.
Viagogo’s search advertising is also, we believe, breaking Google’s own AdWords guidelines. These state clearly that advertisers are expected “to comply with the local laws for any area that their ads target” and that Google will “generally err on the side of caution in applying this policy because we don’t want to allow content of questionable legality.”
We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising.
However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.
We look forward to working with you to achieve these goals,
Sharon Hodgson MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse
Adam Webb, Campaign Manager, FanFair Alliance
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive, Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers (STAR)
Nigel Adams MP
Pete Wishart MP
Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE
Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, Music Managers Forum
Claire Turnham, Founder, Victim of Viagogo
Lucie Caswell, Chief Executive, Featured Artists Coalition
Martin Ingham, Chair, National Arenas Association
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive, UK Music
Neil Tomlinson, President, The Entertainment Agents’ Association
Paul Reed, Association of Independent Festivals
Phil Bowdery, Chair, Concert Promoters Association
Star (full member list at star.org.uk/all-members)
Julian Bird, CEO, Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre
David Allfrey, Chief Executive & Producer, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edward Snape, Chair, League of Independent Producers
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)
Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA)
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC)
Rugby Football Union (RFU)
The Football Association (FA)
More Google resale reactions: “Some distance left to go”
With new global restrictions now live on the use of Google AdWords by secondary ticketing sites, UK anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance has “unequivocally welcomed” the update to Google’s ad policies – but warned there is still room for improvement if the search giant is serious about cracking down on dishonest ticket resellers.
As required by Google’s new ‘event ticket reseller policy’, all major online secondary outlets – including Get Me In! and Seatwave in the UK, Ticketmaster Resale in Australia, SeekGeek, TicketsNow and Vivid Seats in the US and StubHub and Viagogo internationally – have put up notices making clear they are resale sites, and that prices may be above face value.
However, the same wording isn’t included in the ads themselves, meaning a Google search, for example, for “Kendrick Lamar tickets” still brings up scores of resale sites as the top results, with no indication they are not the primary sellers.
In a statement, FanFair identifies this lack of consistency as the “one crucial area” where more needs to be done, saying that while it welcomes Google’s “proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market”, the “largest resale sites still fail to make clear that they are secondary platforms, listing secondhand tickets.
“Given their continued prominence on search pages, the implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers or ‘official sites’. That is simply not the case. Until their ad messaging is amended, we suspect UK ticket buyers will continue to be misled.
“Until ad messaging is amended, we suspect ticket buyers will continue to be misled”
“This is something we look forward to discussing with Google and will urge them to act upon. Unless secondary ticketing sites are forced to ‘be honest’, the full consumer benefits of certification are unlikely to be achieved.”
Elsewhere in the UK industry, Mark Gasson, founder of primary ticket agency Gigantic, urges Google to go on step further in totally excluding secondary sellers from its search results. “While we welcome these changes that help to protect customers from being deceived when searching for tickets online, we would like to see this as the beginning rather than the end in the attempt to safeguard online ticketing,” he tells IQ. “In time, we would want to see all secondary sites excluded from all ticket searches and be restricted to pure secondary tickets searches.
“As it stands, some customers will still not see past the warnings and will end up paying more than they need to for their tickets. This not only misleads customers but also impacts on their potential spend on other concerts.”
“Google’s moves to ban misleading adverts from the secondary sites on its search engines is a welcome move, and a step in the right direction which should stop a lot of people being ripped off,” adds Dan Ealam, director of promoter DHP Family.
“Having seen firsthand the pain these unethical sites can cause consumers through false claims of being official, financial heartache for music fans and sometimes even selling non-existent tickets, we feel there is still some distance left to go, but this is a good starting point from Google.”
Cautious welcome for new Google resale restrictions
Google has pledged to provide consumers with a ticket-buying “experience they can trust”, as the first of its new restrictions on accepting advertising from secondary ticketing sites come into force.
The new measures, announced last November, see the search engine giant include ticket resellers in its ‘other restricted businesses’ AdWords category, requiring them to be certified before they can advertise through its AdWords platform.
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; and refrain from implying they are the “primary or original provider of event tickets”.
As of March 2018, secondaries must also list the face value of the tickets, along with the reseller’s price in the same currency.
The crackdown comes 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 resale sites’ domination of Google search results, achieved through AdWords advertising.
“We constantly review our policies to ensure we are providing good experiences for consumers,” says Google spokesperson Elijah Lawal. “When people use our platform to purchase tickets, we need to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. We think that event ticket resellers that agree to these new transparency requirements will provide a better and safer user experience on our platform.”
“These new transparency requirements will provide a better and safer user experience on our platform”
The implementation of the new event ticket reseller policy – which goes live this evening UK time, with most of the effects understood to start being seen as of tomorrow morning (although the ‘big four’ UK resale sites have already added notices stating prices may be above face value) – has been well received by most industry groups, although several urged Google to go further to protect consumers.
“It’s great that Google has taken this action and have done so on a global basis,” says Jonathan Brown, chief executive of the London-based Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). “Their requirements for clarity on resale websites should help customers searching for tickets, and it looks as though there’s more to come in March when they start requiring face value prices to be given as well.
“Obviously we’re looking forward to seeing what the real impact is once this new policy is fully implemented by Google.”
UK consumers’ association Which? welcomes the move as a “step in the right direction”, but says Google must force websites to “make it absolutely clear to consumers whether they are a primary or secondary seller”.
“If secondary sites don’t also provide clarity on ticket restrictions, ticket location and seller information, they could be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act,” says Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill.
“It’s still not clear enough to buyers when they are on a secondary site”
A spokesperson for StubHub, the world’s biggest ticket marketplace, says the company “has always put fans at the forefront of the business” and “welcome[s] any measures which help improve transparency and protect consumers”.
“StubHub has been engaged in discussions with Google on their new policy and we will be fully compliant once it comes into effect,” the spokesperson says in a statement.
Malte Blumenthal of CTS Eventim – whose FanSALE site was one of the first to be certified by Google – said last month the company welcomes “Google’s initiative for creating additional transparency in the ticketing market and to indicate clearly the differences between primary and secondary market platforms.”
However, a source close to a major UK association echoes Neill’s comments, telling IQ: “Our line would be similar to Which? – we want to see more.”
Despite the ‘prices may be higher or lower than face value’ that have appeared on StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In!, they add, “it’s still not clear enough to buyers when they are on a secondary site.”
More reactions are expected tomorrow when the full impact of the new AdWords policy begins to be felt.
APM lawyer: Google “surprised” at extent of touting
Gabriel Rossy, lawyer for Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM), has praised Google’s recent crackdown on unscrupulous ticket resellers – and revealed the tech giant previously had “no idea” of the extent to which its search engine was being used to tout tickets.
Speaking to IQ, Rossy – APM’s long-time attorney, who has previously represented the association in a dispute over tariffs with collection society SGAE – explains how Google execs were unaware of the dominance of secondary ticketing sites on its search listings before APM and others first brought the issue to the company’s attention.
“We realised, by asking victims who did not get into concerts, ‘Were you aware you were buying a resold ticket?’, and them replying, ‘No, I just went to Google’, how crucial the position of Google was in that fight,” he explains.
“You had these websites misleading customers about their reliability, calling themselves ‘official’ ticket sellers, but they needed the cooperation of Google to get where they are. When people end up on a resale website, 90% of the seller’s misleading work is already done, so Google played a big part.”
Responding to pressure from promoters’ associations and politicians in Spain, Britain and more, Google announced in December it will, as of this month, include ticket resellers in its ‘other restricted businesses’ AdWords category, requiring them to be certified with Google before they can advertise through its AdWords service, which is key to topping search results. To be certified, secondary ticketers must, among other things, make clear they are not the primary seller of the ticket and list the face value of the tickets being resold.
The campaign in Spain was spearheaded by APM and Neo Sala’s Doctor Music, with FanFair Alliance also pressuring Google in the UK and promoters such as Michael Chugg and Michael Gudinski leading the fight in Australia.
“You were unaware of this, but now you know – so it’s up to you to do something about it”
Rossy says his interpretation of the Spanish criminal code led him to believe that Google was unwittingly breaking the law itself by serving as a “mediator” between fraudulent ticket resellers and consumers.
“But they were not aware, so we decided to go to Google and inform them officially,” he explains. Rossy and APM set up their first meeting with Google in May, and discovered execs were “honestly surprised” how their search engine was being used to facilitate ticket resale: “they had no idea”.
Another letter (“a long one”) followed in November, outlining “four different types of crime I believe most resale websites were committing and they [Google] were cooperating with”.
“We told them, if you go to any big event or concert and stand at the gate and ask people where they got their tickets from, you’d realise just how important Google is to misleading people,” he says. “I offered them all the information we had, from hundreds of victims [of ticket fraud or voided resold tickets] and said, ‘I’m sure most of them would be happy to come here and discuss it with you.'”
“They were completely honest – that was my impression – and obviously Google doesn’t want to test the limits of the law,” Rossy continues, “so I was sure they would want to be on the right side of this.
“And that’s why I pushed them with the letter in November: I said, ‘I believe you were unaware of this, but now you know – so it’s up to you to do something about it.”
“When people end up on a resale website through Google, 90% of the seller’s work is already done”
Rossy doesn’t take sole credit for the sweeping changes announced in December, saying FanFair are also “doing a great thing” in the UK and that Google may have been planning an overhaul of its AdWords policy anyway. “I don’t know to what extent we changed things,” he says. “But I’m sure we gave them a push.”
While he echoes the sentiments of FanFair and the MMF in welcoming the new restrictions, Rossy says, “like anything”, there is still room for improvement – taking particular issue with the term “secondary ticketing”, which he believes is misleading for consumers.
“I don’t like the language of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’, which isn’t understood by most ordinary fans,” he explains. “I would prefer Google to require ticket sellers to use the terms ‘official’ and ‘resale’ instead: I like calling a spade a spade!”
He would also like to see a requirement that secondary sites include a disclaimer that buying resold tickets is never 100% secure – as well as forbidding them from selling tickets to shows where resale is expressly forbidden.
Despite this, Rossy emphasises that the new AdWords policy is “very positive” step forward for consumers – and that Google’s flexibility on the issue shows its willingness to work with the industry in the future.
“These potential improvements do not overshadow the fact that these measures prove Google is on the side of both the music industry and consumers,” he concludes. “And I am sure they will be receptive to any future suggestions.”
Global Google crackdown on ticket resellers
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.”