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Viagogo suspended from advertising on Google

Officers raided four properties as part of an ongoing investigation into secondary ticketing. Photo: Shutterstock Google found Viagogo in breach of its advertising policy
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Google has suspended Viagogo from taking out paid-for advertising in its search results, claiming the secondary ticketing site has breached its advertising policy.

The search engine has taken the decision to stop allowing Viagogo to pay to feature at the top of rankings when potential buyers search online for tickets.

It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority announced last month that it is seeking to find Viagogo in contempt of court for not adhering to consumer protection law relating to the information it gives buyers.

Viagogo facing contempt of court proceedings

In a statement, Google told the BBC: “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust.

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

Campaign group the Fanfair Alliance said it had been urging Google to address Viagogo’s advertising account for more than two years.

Google urged to stop Viagogo ‘buying its way’ to the top of online search results

Its campaign manager, Adam Webb, described Google’s move as a “landmark moment and a major step forward to preventing exploitation of audiences in the secondary ticketing market.”

“We are delighted [Google has] finally acted and suspended Viagogo’s advertising. We now hope other platforms, particularly Facebook, can follow Google’s example,” he added.

Sharon Hodgson, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ticket abuse, said: “For years, I have heard from fans who were led to believe that Viagogo was a trusted and official resale website because it appeared at the top of a Google search. I’m pleased that this will no longer occur.

“A well respected brand, such as Google, should have done this a long time ago. But I am now pleased that this step has been taken, which will protect consumers and fans.”

The Stage has contacted Viagogo for comment.

Legal action by the CMA commenced last year, and the body maintains that Viagogo displays misleading information about ticket availability, and insufficient warnings about the knock-on effects of resold tickets.

The CMA said Viagogo does not offer sufficient warnings that secondary ticket buyers may result in them being refused admission into events, and also displays inaccurate claims about the number of tickets available.

Viagogo has previously defended its business model, and its chief executive Cris Miller has argued that ticket holders should be able to sell their tickets for whatever price someone is willing to pay for them. This is in the face of ongoing criticism that the secondary site is allowing touts to exploit buyers by charging highly inflated prices for sought-after tickets.

Viagogo boss dismisses controversy over business model

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