Facebook: the next secondary ticketing battleground?
The secondary ticketing sector, squeezed by hostile regulators and new restrictions on Google AdWords, is increasingly touting for business on Facebook, where a growing number of unofficial Events pages are driving unsuspecting buyers towards resale sites.
Alongside other social platforms, Facebook’s Events has in recent years become an important tool for promoters, with concert organisers and primary ticketers relying heavily on social media to market their events to potential concertgoers. But an increasing number of unofficial tour pages often compete directly for ticket sales for shows which have yet to sell out.
A recent article by Singapore-based concert discovery platform Bandwagon drew attention to the phenomenon in Asia, where a company called Asia Events, Concerts & Festivals is seemingly promoting a string of high-profile shows in east Asia and the Middle East, including Chance the Rapper, Jessie J, the Killers, Sam Smith and Mariah Carey, throughout the autumn and winter.
Some of the events have thousands of ‘guests’: 1,200 people are apparently thinking of going to Guns N’ Roses in Manila on 11 November, while 715 people are interested in Khalid in Singapore (the numbers on the official event page, hosted by promoters AEG Presents and Midas Promotions, are only slightly higher, at 916). While this gives them an air of legitimacy, fans who click the ‘find tickets’ link are redirected, via a site called Eatmytickets, to Viagogo, despite most of the shows still having face-value tickets on sale from the primary seller.
Resellers are often competing directly on Facebook for ticket sales for shows which have yet to sell out
It’s a tactic also being used by secondary ticketers outside Asia, with pages such as Best Places in the UK, USA Events, Concerts & Festivals, Kultfeierei in Germany and Ed Sheeran Tour 2019 in South Africa similarly driving traffic to Eatmytickets/Viagogo for tickets to concerts, festivals, musicals and sporting events.
While Eatmytickets appears to be the most popular destination for these kind of pages, the company, based in Grünwald, in south-eastern Germany, tells IQ it is “not connected to the Facebook pages” in question. “We distance ourselves from these practices,” they say. “We are operating worldwide and redirect to different primary and secondary ticket sales platforms.”
Elsewhere, the redirect of choice for Pink fanpage PINK Fans by www.ConcertTour.us (13k likes) is US site TicketNetwork, with Elton John Farewell Tour 2018–2019 sending fans to StubHub. The popular NYC Concert Guide (14k likes), meanwhile, favours Ticketlite or Ticket Liquidator; one of its most popular events currently is the charitable Global Citizen Festival, featuring Janet Jackson, the Weeknd and Cardi B, in Central Park, New York, on 29 September.
A senior figure at one major European promoter tells IQ that some secondary sellers – many of whom had previously relied on the “confusion factor” (ie mistaking Viagogo, etc., for a primary outlet) to drive sales via Google – are turning to Facebook, following the introduction of new rules on accepting advertising from secondary ticketing sites.
Facebook says if a copycat Event page is pretending to be ‘official’, it can take action for impersonation
The result, they suggest, is that Event pages for their, and their competitors’, shows are facing growing competition from unofficial Facebook events – comparable to the battle between promoters and secondary sellers to appear at the top of Google’s search results. (Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith told IQ last year the most his company could pay to boost their Google ranking was around £1 per click, “otherwise you’re spending more than you’re making”. Resale sites, on the hand, can afford to “pay £10 [per click] if they’re making £500” on a ticket.)
According to Facebook, pages such as those listed above do not violate its community standards, as the ultimate purchase of tickets takes place outside its platform, and so is not governed by its policies.
However, a spokesperson says that if a copycat Event page was pretending to be the official one (a la Viagogo with its contentious “official site” tagline) the company could take action for impersonation, which is against its rules. So, they add, is copyright violation, with rightsholders who believe their IP has been violated able to submit a report to Facebook for review.
Facebook is the world’s most-used social network, with more than 2.2bn active users as of the end of June 2018. It first piloted ticket sales directly from Event pages at the tail end of 2015, and has since agreed partnerships with major primary sellers, including Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and AXS.
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