Yesterday, Google’s global certification process for ticket resellers went live.

Under this new system, secondary ticketing platforms must meet a range of criteria before they can access Google’s advertising platforms – for instance, on their own website they must prominently disclose they are a secondary market, and that tickets may be above face value.

Crucially, they must also “be honest” about their business – and not “imply” in their Google advertising that they are a primary ticketing company. 

The aim is that ticket resellers will “radically increase their transparency”.

On the back of research we published in July 2017, highlighting potentially misleading marketing practices by resale sites like Viagogo, StubHub and Get Me In, FanFair Alliance has engaged in detailed conversations with Google about this issue. Practically every consumer victim of secondary ticketing we encounter feels they were misled by the advertising and prominence of ticket resale sites on search engines.

Research we commissioned last year (“Ticked Off”) found that 52% of the UK public considered it difficult to distinguish between authorised primary ticket sellers and unauthorised secondary sites.

On that basis, FanFair unequivocally welcomes the updates to Google’s ad policies. As a result of these changes, we are already witnessing greater clarity in how the largest secondary websites present themselves to users.

However, on the evidence so far, there is room for improvement – and especially in regards to the secondary platforms’ paid advertising on Google.

Quite frankly, these adverts are still far from “honest”.

Companies such as Viagogo, StubHub and Get Me In are still failing to make clear disclosure that they are resale sites, listing resale tickets. They are still dominating the top of search pages.

As a result, the misleading implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers.

And on top of that, many of their ticket listings are, we believe, in breach of UK consumer law.

To “radically increase their transparency” we need this to change.

In a statement, FanFair Alliance said:

“FanFair welcomes Google’s proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market. The rollout of a global certification system for ticket resellers is a big step forward and already achieving positive impacts, with the largest secondary platforms now providing clearer disclosure on their own websites about the true nature of their business. 

“However, more needs to be done, and especially in one crucial area. 

“In their online advertising, the largest resale sites still fail to make clear that they are secondary platforms, listing secondhand tickets. Given their continued prominence on search pages, the implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers or ‘official sites’. That is simply not the case. Until their ad messaging is amended, we suspect UK ticket buyers will continue to be misled. 

“This is something we look forward to discussing with Google and will urge them to act upon. Unless secondary ticketing sites are forced to ‘be honest’, the full consumer benefits of certification are unlikely to be achieved.”