Google was unaware of the extent scalpers were using the site to run deceptive ads for tickets according to Gabriel Rossy, lawyer for Spanish Association of Music Promoters. In an interview with IQ Mag, Rossy applauds the tech giant’s new crackdown on resellers.
Rossy explained to IQ that Google says it was only made aware of their issue when the Spanish Association of Music Promoters brought it to their attention. He said that according to Spanish criminal law, Google could be considered a mediator between ticket resellers and consumers who were paying above face value for secondary tickets and often didn’t realize there were still primary tickets available.
“They were not aware, so we decided to go to Google and inform them officially,” Rossy told IQ.
The Association held a meeting with Google in May, where they discovered that the company was “honestly surprised” by their unwitting involvement in the secondary market.
“You had these websites misleading customers about their reliability, calling themselves ‘official’ ticket sellers, but they needed the cooperation of Google to get where they are,” Rossy said. “When people end up on a resale website, 90% of the seller’s misleading work is already done, so Google played a big part.”
In November, the Association followed up with Google in a letter detailing “four different types of crime I believe most resale websites were committing and they [Google] were cooperating with.”
Rossy described the interaction stating “We told them, if you go to any big event or concert and stand at the gate and ask people where they got their tickets from, you’d realise just how important Google is to misleading people. I offered them all the information we had, from hundreds of victims [of ticket fraud or voided resold tickets] and said, ‘I’m sure most of them would be happy to come here and discuss it with you.'”
In Spain, the campaign to prevent Google from continuing this practice was led by the Association and Neo Sala’s Doctor Music, while Fan Fair Alliance worked diligently in the UK and promoters such as Michael Chugg and Michael Gudinski led the fight in Australia.
As a result of mounting pressure, Google announced ithat beginning in 2018, ticket resellers will be added to the ‘other restricted businesses’ AdWords category. Restricted businesses have to be certified by Google before they can advertise through the AdWords service which place companies at the top of search results.
Google’s new guidelines include requiring resellers to disclose that they are not the primary ticket seller, a clear cost and fee prior to checkout, and notification to consumers that tickets can be found cheaper through primary ticketers. Resellers can’t imply they are “official” or “approved” resellers or create website URLs that deceive consumers with references to the artist or venue name such as FleetwoodMacTickets.com. Beginning in March, resellers will also need to disclose the face value of a ticket as well as a breakdown of the reseller’s price, in the same currency.
Rossy explained to IQ that he is pleased with the restrictions put in place by Google but still believes more can be done and that consumers should be warned that purchasing tickets from a reseller is never 100% secure.
“I don’t like the language of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’, which isn’t understood by most ordinary fans,” Rossy explained. “I would prefer Google to require ticket sellers to use the terms ‘official’ and ‘resale’ instead: I like calling a spade a spade.”
Rossy added “These potential improvements do not overshadow the fact that these measures prove Google is on the side of both the music industry and consumers. And I am sure they will be receptive to any future suggestions.”