Why Viagogo has been axed from Google

Controversial ticketing site Viagogo has been banned by Google from promoting itself by paying to top their search results.

Viagogo came up as the first listing when punters would search for tours on Google.

The global decision comes after Google found Viagogo breached its advertising policy.

In Australia Viagogo has been found guilty of misleading consumers by the ACCC, with customers buying tickets that have been scalped or the barcodes have already been used multiple times.

"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.

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

Cris Miller managing director of Viagogo in Sydney. Pic: supplied
Cris Miller managing director of Viagogo in Sydney. Pic: supplied

The decision has been welcomed by Australian promoters, who have been frustrated by a lack of action to stamp out the Swiss-based Viagogo and other secondary ticketing sites.

Promoter Michael Gudinski has been outspoken about Viagogo for several years.

"We're thrilled at Frontier to hear of Google's global decision regarding Viagogo," Gudinski said.

"This is a huge and integral step towards safeguarding music fans and we couldn't be happier."

Musicians including Amy Shark and Gang of Youths have actively discouraged their fans from buying tickets on Viagogo, while many customers, especially in the older demographic, have bought tickets that have turned out to be invalid when they have scanned them at venues.

Live Performance Australia's chief executive Evelyn Richardson said the company had approached Google in the past about getting Viagogo removed in their paid searches.

"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," said Richardson said.

 

Music promoter Michael Gudinski in his Melbourne office. Pic: Stuart McEvoy
Music promoter Michael Gudinski in his Melbourne office. Pic: Stuart McEvoy

"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."

The decision has had immediate effects - with Viagogo dropping from the top of Google paid search, although it is still visible lower down.

Other secondary ticketing sites, such as Stub Hub (a major player in the US market), Queen of Tickets and SafeTickets, have replaced Viagogo in Australia today at the top of paid searches.

Punters should stick to official sites such as Ticketek and Ticketmaster to ensure the tickets they buy are legitimate. The safest way is to go to the website of the promoter or the artist you are buying tickets for, who will have the official ticket link.

Amy Shark is anti Viagogo. Picture: Tony Gough
Amy Shark is anti Viagogo. Picture: Tony Gough

 

Elton John tour Google search today. Pic: supplied
Elton John tour Google search today. Pic: supplied

Rod Sims, chair for the ACCC, said in April: "Viagogo's claims misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like 'less than 1 per cent tickets remaining' to create a false sense of urgency.

"We urge consumers to only buy tickets from authorised sellers, or they risk their tickets being dishonoured at the gates or doors."

Ethical ticket resale platform Tixel, which was formed after founders Jason Webb and Zac Leigh were scammed out of Tame Impala tickets they bought on Gumtree, also welcomed the news.

"It's great to see Google finally show market leadership and take a stand to protect fans," Tixel said. "It's a huge win for fans and artists because transparency has been the biggest issue in ticket resale. Building trust is the number one priority for us at Tixel as we continue to develop new technology to empower fans, artists and event organisers."

Twickets is another ethical ticket site that was created as an antidote to Viagogo.

Championed by Ed Sheeran, who was horrified at seeing his tickets sell for inflated prices on Viagogo, Twickets sells tickets for face value.

A Viagogo spokesman said today: "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."



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