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Google suspends Viagogo from paid-for global search results

Google suspends Viagogo from paid-for global search results
July 17, 2019

Google has announced the suspension of secondary ticketing company Viagogo from its paid-for search results, globally and with immediate effect, dealing a potentially huge blow to the website’s ability to do business.

In a statement issued today, the search engine giant said the controversial ticket resale site was in breach of its advertising rules.

The global suspension of Viagogo’s advertising account has been described by campaign groups as a “landmark moment” for the ticketing industry.

Viagogo’s listings have previously appeared at the very top of the page when consumers search for tickets, even for concerts by artists who have condemned the website, such as Ed Sheeran. Campaigners say this has led to buyers assuming the site is authorised by their favourite acts to sell tickets.

It has plummeted down the search results after Google’s decision and sits among smaller rivals which have not paid to appear above standard search rankings – and well below its main rival, StubHub, whose ads are still being accepted.

While Australian authorities have been largely dormant in relation to the ticket reseller, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority and New Zealand's Commerce Commission have pursued the Swiss-based company on breaches of consumer law.

Explaining its surprise decision, the Google statement advised "when people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust.

“This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach.”

Campaigners celebrated Google’s decision which will clearly impact Viagogo’s ability to attract customers.

Viagogo has come under fire for practices such as “profiteering” from charity concerts, selling tickets whose buyers might be denied entry and colluding with professional scalpers accused of exploiting fans.

Adam Webb, Campaign Manager for the UK-based FanFair Alliance, commented "this is a landmark moment, and a major step forward to preventing exploitation of audiences in the secondary ticketing market.

“After publishing extensive research highlighting the impacts of Viagogo’s misleading search advertising, FanFair Alliance has been in constructive conversations with Google for over two years in an attempt to address this issue.

“We are delighted they have finally acted and suspended Viagogo’s advertising. We now hope other platforms, particularly Facebook, can follow Google’s example.”

Viagogo has come under fire for practices such as “profiteering” from charity concerts, selling tickets whose buyers might be denied entry and colluding with professional scalpers accused of exploiting fans.

A spokesperson for Viagogo advised "we were extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns today. We are confident that there has been no breach of Google’s policies and look forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Update: 18th July 2019 - Live Performance Australia applauds Google decision
Live Performance Australia (LPA) has applauded Google's decision to remove Viagogo from its paid search results after finding it in breach of its advertising policies.

LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson today advised "this is a great outcome for Australian ticket buyers, performers and producers who have been subjected to Viagogo's misleading and inflated ticket resale practices, which have also been called out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

"We had approached Google some time ago for action to be taken over Viagogo's advertising in Google's paid search, and we're delighted this has now been done.

"It's good for the ticket-buying public, and it's good for artists who don't want to see their fans being disappointed or ripped off through dodgy ticket resale practices. We would now like to see other online platforms follow suit and take similar action to protect consumers." 

Lower image: Viagogo no longer sits at the top of the page for ticket searches as of 17th July 2019.

Related Articles

1st July 2019 - Viagogo claims desire to meet with New Zealand’s Commerce Commission

18th April 2019 - Federal Court finds Viagogo guilty of misleading consumers

5th April 2019 - Viagogo executives lobby Federal MPs against ticket resale restrictions

20th March 2019 - UK MPs call for Viagogo boycott and changes to ticket scalping laws

12th March 2019 - Viagogo blamed as 200 refused entry to Dunedin concert

19th February 2019 - New Zealand High Court Judge rejects Commerce Commission injunction against Viagogo

11th February 2019 - Concert promoter Michael Chugg says Viagogo is ‘out of control ... f**king thieves’

6th February 2019 - Commerce Commission describes Viagogo as a ‘marketplace for scalpers and fraudsters’ in Auckland High Court

8th December 2018 - Viagogo agrees to UK competition authority demands on ticket resales

12th September 2018 - Viagogo responds to calls for Google AdWords service to reject its resales

15th August 2018 - New Zealand Commerce Commission begins court action against Viagogo

5th June 2018 - FIFA makes criminal complaint against ticket reseller Viagogo

30th May 2018 - Ed Sheeran’s strong stance against ticket scalpers has global impact

23rd November 2017 - Google updates AdWords policy to restrict online ticket scalpers

1st September 2017 - Google urged to block online resellers who dupe ticket buyers


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