Viagogo has hit back at the anti-touting campaign that has urged Google to take action against the resale site as it continues to dominate ticket search rankings through paid advertising.
An open letter from All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ticket Abuse, campaign group FanFair Alliance and the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers (STAR), requested that Google should stop taking money from the controversial ticketing platform.
Responding to the letter, a spokesperson for the company told Complete Music Update: “It is legal to resell a ticket and all tickets on Viagogo are genuine. Viagogo is pleased to have reached resolution with the Advertising Standards Authority and welcomes the opportunity to do so with the Competition & Markets Authority through the legal process.
“We respect the courts and the legal process and look forward to resolving this with the CMA in the interests of consumers – not the commercial interests of music promoters and other competitors.”
The crusade against Viagogo’s paid advertising has received support throughout the music, theatre and sports sectors, and has also received cross-party political support.
Other signatories include representatives from the Football Association, UK Music, the Concert Promoters Association, Music Managers Forum, Featured Artists Coalition, the National Arenas Association, the Association Of Independent Festivals and the Entertainment Agents’ Association.
“Viagogo’s use of Google paid-for search to achieve prominence to consumers continues to concern all signatories to this letter, now more than ever,” the letter states. “Working with the campaign group Victim of Viagogo, FanFair has helped many individuals who believe they were mis-sold tickets to claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds. The vast majority of these customers tell us they were led to Viagogo through Google search and unaware they were buying a resold ticket.”
Google may be violating its own guidelines, which stress that companies who buy prominence in search results via Google’s pay-per-click AdWords service must “comply with local laws”, according to the letter. It cites the Competition and Markets Authority’s legal action brought against Viagogo last month for alleged breaches of consumer law.
“In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted,” the letter says. “We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising. However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.”
Google promised to offer a “better and safer” platform after its new global transparency regulations on ticket resellers came into force earlier this year.
The letter concludes: “We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising. However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.”