(CelebrityAccess) — Search giant Google is moving to cracking down on secondary market abuses with a set of new rules aimed at preventing fans from paying more than face value for event tickets.
Starting in January, secondary ticket marketing sites that utilize Google's AdWords service must obtain certification from the search giant. Certification requirements include a clear disclosure (at the top of the website or ad) which indicates that the ticket seller is a secondary market vendor and not the 'official' ticket source for an event.
The reseller company`s name or URL must also not indicate that it is an official site, or include the name of a performer or venue, meaning that "theeaglestickets.com" or "redrockstix.com" as your URL won't fly.
Also included in the new rules are provisions requiring that resellers prominently disclose that ticket prices are higher than face value (meaning the price offered by the primary provider). This disclosure should be easily visible and clearly explained in the top 20% of the reseller’s website, including the home page and any landing pages.
Resellers must also provide a price breakdown during the checkout process and before the customer provides payment information. The breakdown should show the specific costs added, such as taxes and any fees that have been added to the face value of the tickets.
As well, starting in March 2018, resellers will also need to provide the face value of a ticket along with the reseller’s price, and in the same currency.
Primary ticketing companies will not need to comply with Google's new restrictions but secondary market resellers will need to be certified, as well as companies that straddle both markets. Aggregators of event tickets, auction sites, and marketplaces that allow ticket resale are also required to be certified.
The changes follow increasing regulatory scrutiny on secondary ticket market practices. Earlier this month, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority raided the offices of Viagogo and StubHub as part of an ongoing investigation into the secondary market.
The investigation, launched in 2016, followed a string of revelations about ticketing companies imposing huge markets on concert tickets and the sometimes opaque interconnection between primary and secondary ticket vendors.
Google's changes were cheered by advocacy groups, including the music industry-backed FanFair Alliance.
In a statement released following Google's announcement, FanFair Alliance said:
“FanFair’s own research has illustrated the extent to which Viagogo, StubHub and Get Me In! use paid search to dominate Google rankings. They make little indication that they are secondary ticketing platforms.
“As a result, fans have been systematically directed towards touted tickets, even when primary inventory is still available from authorized ticket sellers.
“We are pleased that Google have listened to concerns on this issue, and have acted in an assertive manner and on a global basis.
“We look forward to seeing further details – but this move should be a major step forward in cleaning up the secondary market, as we anticipate more regulatory and legislative action to come.”