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Google bigs up its new ticket tout advertising rules, FanFair says more to be done

By | Published on Thursday 8 February 2018


Google has been bigging up its new rules that aim to force secondary ticketing websites to be more upfront about their unofficial status when advertising on the search engine.

The web giant unveiled the new rules and a new certification system for ticket resellers last year, but has been talking about them again as they actually come into effect. The aim is to help consumers better distinguish between approved primary sellers of tickets, and the websites where all the touts do their touting.

Speaking to Radio 4 programme ‘You & Yours’, Google’s Head Of Advertising Communications for the EMEA region, Jennifer Kaiser, said earlier this week: “We felt like we needed to do more to make sure the advertising of secondary ticketing is clear on our platform. To carry on advertising on Google, secondary sites can’t use words like ‘official’, they can’t use the artist or venue name in the website URL, and they’ll need to clearly say they are a reseller at the top of their page”.

Kaiser added that it’s not for Google to try to stop the resale of tickets for profit online, but that it can ensure that consumers are better informed about who they are buying tickets from. She continued: “At the end of the day secondary ticketing is completely lawful and it’s a consumer right to resell your ticket if you want to. [But] if the government wants to push for further rules we would certainly comply with those rules”.

The new Google advertising regulations responded to calls from anti-ticket-touting campaigners – most notably the FanFair campaign – after research suggested many consumers are confused about the difference between primary and secondary ticketing sites. Misleading communications by the latter – and especially big bad Viagogo – contribute to that confusion.

Said campaigners have generally welcomed Google’s new regulations, although they are also watching with interest quite how they work in practice. Kaiser insists that Google is committed to ensuring its new rules are fully complied with. She concluded: “We’re not just going to certify resellers and go away. We’ll be constantly making sure they maintain the criteria in order to run advertising”.

For its part, FanFair reckons that this week’s developments are a good and sizable first step, but there is still more to be done. It said in a statement this morning: “FanFair welcomes Google’s proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market. The rollout of a global certification system for ticket resellers is a big step forward and already achieving positive impacts, with the largest secondary platforms now providing clearer disclosure on their own websites about the true nature of their business”.

It continued: “However, more needs to be done, and especially in one crucial area. In their online advertising, 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”.

With that in mind, FanFair says: “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”.