SEARCH ENGINE Google has announced a raft of restrictions for secondary ticketing sites, in a bid to protect the public from being deceived, exploited and pressured into buying tickets at inflated prices.
From January, resale platforms will no longer be able to imply they are the primary or official seller of tickets, and must make it clear they are a resale facility.
Sites will also need to be certified with Google before they can use its AdWords feature, which allows companies to pay to top its search listings.
Resellers will have to inform customers that the price listed may be higher than face-value, and include a breakdown of the fees and taxes before payment. The original price of tickets will need to be displayed from March.
It is hoped the changes, to be introduced globally, will bring more transparency to the resale market.
“Fans have been systematically directed towards touted tickets, even when primary inventory is still available from authorised ticket sellers,” says anti-ticket touting campaign group FanFair Alliance in a statement.
A survey commissioned by FanFair (see LIVE UK issue 214) recently analysed 100 tours by acts including Metallica and Run the Jewels, and found a secondary site had paid to top Google searches 77 per cent of the time.
In March during a Culture, Media and Sport committee into ticket abuse, Google was criticised for allowing Switzerland-based Viagogo to top its search ranking, while falsely advertising tickets for Ed Sheeran as “100 per cent guaranteed”. Actions Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp of Rocket Management described as fraud.
“These secondary sellers can no longer rely on any impression of legitimacy their online presence was giving, whilst the requirement for transparency on pricing can only be a good thing for concert-goers,” Camp tells LIVE UK.
“There is more that can be done to hold these people to account, but I applaud this move.”
The restrictions come after it was revealed Viagogo and eBay-owned Stubhub had their London offices raided in August, after failing to respond to an ‘information notice’ as part of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation into ticket touting.
“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,” says Nigel Adams MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music.
“If successfully implemented, this move will really improve transparency.”
CEO of the Music Managers Forum Annabella Coldrick adds, “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.”
When contacted by LIVE UK, Stubhub said it was still “evaluating” Google’s new policy, while Ticketmaster, which owns resale sites Seatwave and Get Me In!, declined to comment.