Google has announced a global suspension of Viagogo’s advertising account in what has been described as a “landmark moment” for the ticketing industry.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the search engine giant said the controversial ticket resale site was in breach of its advertising rules.
Politicians and entertainment trade groups have long campaigned for Viagogo to be barred from advertising on Google, claiming its infringements of consumer laws mean it is breaching the tech giant’s rules. The UK’s competition regulator recently said it believes the company is continuing to break UK consumer law despite a court order issued last year.
“When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement today.
“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.
Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, said: “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.”
Last year an open letter from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ticket Abuse, FanFair Alliance and the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers (STAR) demanded that Google takes action against Viagogo and its practices in the UK market.
“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 stated.
“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.”
In a statement issued earlier this month the CMA said it will move forward with legal action against the secondary ticketing site following several warnings that it had not done enough to overhaul the way it presents information on its website to come into compliance with UK consumer protection law following a court order issued in November 2018.
The CMA said that while improvements have been made, Viagogo’s website still uses misleading ticket availability messages and its warnings that tickets with resale restrictions may not guarantee entry to an event do not meet the requirements of the court order.
In addition, the CMA claimed that some seat numbers are not being displayed on the website as required and, in some cases, incomplete addresses of businesses selling tickets were being displayed to consumers.
At the time, Viagogo denied it is failing to comply with UK consumer protection laws. It has until July 18 to respond to the CMA.