Nigel Adams today warmly welcomed news that Google has decided to take action to protect consumers from secondary ticketing advertisements which have previously been a major source of confusion to music fans looking for tickets. As IQ Magazine reports:
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”.
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.”
Responding to the news, Nigel said: “I am really pleased that Google has decided to take this action, which I and others have urged for a number of months. It’s a responsible decision that’s in the best interests of Google’s users. I can no longer even count the number of stories I have heard from fans who thought they were buying a ticket from a primary seller, only to end up paying through the nose or shocked by hidden fees, or with a ticket that’s invalid for entry. The FanFair Alliance and Claire Turnham produced a great guide for fans to avoid getting ripped off in the secondary market, and while I and many of my colleagues in Parliament did our best to help share this information, the prominence of these misleading ads for resellers meant there were lots of fans – rushing to get tickets for a popular gig – who we weren’t able to reach. Google is the first port of call for fans trying to find ticket information and if successfully implemented, this move will really improve transparency.”