UK MPs are calling for Google to “cut ties” with resale sites such as Viagogo and StubHub after it was found they continue to dominate search results despite the web giant’s ticket advertising changes. 

MP Sharon Hodgson is leading the push after a repeat of research from July 2017 from anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance showed that searching for live music tickets on Google often directed fans to secondary sites.

The research highlighted that when fans searched for tickets to see artists such as Ed Sheeran, Roger Waters, Justin Timberlake, the Rolling Stones, Superorganism, Wiz Khalifa and Krept & Konan, 98 per cent of the time, Viagogo, StubHub and Get Me In! were paying to top Google search results.

These secondary sites were listed first, despite official tickets for the events not being sold out, and the companies are failing to make any obvious disclosure that they are listing ‘second-hand’ tickets.

Hodgson said: “Further research from FanFair Alliance has confirmed what we already knew – secondary ticket sites such as Viagogo, StubHub and GetMeIn! use misleading pay per click ads from Google to direct consumers to their websites, even though tickets are still available at face value on primary ticket websites.

“As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, I am very concerned by Google’s relationship with secondary ticket sites, the platform it provides for them and the priority it gives over primary sites. I believe that it is time for Google to cut its ties with these sites, which so clearly break UK consumer law and watchdog rulings. This is something that I will be raising with the Government imminently.”

Earlier this year, Google said it would no longer accept ads from secondary ticketing operators that do not make clear they are resellers under sweeping changes imposed by the search engine giant.

Google stated it would require all resale sites to be certified and “radically increase their transparency.” However, FanFair Alliance said at the time that Google’s global certification process for ticket resellers has “room for improvement.”

The new FanFair Alliance research found that out of 100 searches Viagogo topped Google results on 52 occasions, and were in the top two results on 80 occasions, while StubHub topped Google results on 41 occasions, and were in the top two results on 58 occasions.

Get Me In! topped Google results on five occasions, and were in the top two results on 19 occasions.

Adam Webb, FanFair Alliance campaign manager said: “Reforms of the UK’s ticket resale market continue to be hindered by the misleading marketing practices of the largest secondary sites. Their deployment of pay-per-click search advertising prioritises ticket touts before ticket buyers.

“These bad practices could easily be cleaned up by actions from three US-based companies.”

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