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FanFair says tout ads on Google confuse fans

By | Published on Monday 10 July 2017


The FanFair Alliance has this morning published new research that shows how the secondary ticketing platforms use Google ads to put touted tickets at the top of search results. This means that fans searching for info on upcoming gigs on the search engine will see tickets available on the resale market at hiked up prices first, even when face value tickets are still available from primary ticket sellers.

The anti-tout campaign says that when it searched for 100 upcoming UK tours on Google – from a diverse range of artists, including Metallica, Cliff Richard, Lulu and Run The Jewels – a link to a secondary ticketing site appeared in the top paid-for slot of the resulting search list 77% of the time, despite only six of the tours actually being sold out on primary ticketing sites. In 65 instances it was big bad Viagogo topping the search list, a service that is billed as an “official site” on the search engine.

FanFair adds that the reason a company like Viagogo can afford to be buy all these Google ads is the massive fees they charge when people purchase their tickets from a tout via the secondary site. Or, in the words of FanFair: “The reason that Viagogo and other secondary sites can manipulate Google search in this way is simple – it’s because they can afford to. Their business model is practically risk free and their service fees are typically set at around 20%-30% of the resale price. As a result, when purchasing AdWords they can outbid authorised ticket sellers whose charges are significantly less”.

FanFair Alliance Campaign Manager Adam Webb added: “This is a real problem for UK audiences. If you’re looking to attend a gig or festival, you’d probably expect a search engine to act as a trusted guide and direct you to the legitimate ticket seller. However, we consistently see secondary ticketing platforms, led by Viagogo, using paid search to dominate search rankings and even masquerade as ‘official’ sellers – causing considerable confusion in the process. FanFair is contacted on a daily basis by consumers who have been duped by this kind of advertising and led straight into the arms of a ticket tout”.

With that in mind, FanFair has a tip for ticket buyers. “FanFair has brought these practices to the attention of regulators and Google itself”, the campaign says. “But until action is taken we strongly recommend that would-be ticket buyers give search engines a swerve and check first with the artist or festival website”.