Google urged by campaigners to take action on Viagogo

The secondary ticket website has been labelled as "one of the world’s least trusted brands" by the collective of protest groups

Google has been urged by campaigners to take action on Viagogo, with the opponents of the secondary ticketing website warning Google about the development of an “untenable situation” they say has been caused by Viagogo’s actions.

It is Viagogo’s ability to dominate online ticket searches through paid advertising which has irked the campaigners, and action is now being sought by the latter.

Writing in a letter to Google executives on Friday (September 7), the campaigners – which include the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ticket Abuse, campaign group FanFair Alliance and the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers (STAR) – have gone on the offensive against Viagogo’s practice of paying for advertising on Google in order to gain prominence in search results.

This is achieved despite the ongoing risk that consumers can buy tickets through Viagogo which are either being sold at vastly-inflated prices or are totally invalid.

“Viagogo’s use of Google paid-for search to achieve prominence to consumers continues to concern all signatories to this letter, now more than ever,” the letter states.

“Working with the campaign group Victim of Viagogo, FanFair has helped many individuals who believe they were mis-sold tickets to claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds. The vast majority of these customers tell us they were led to Viagogo through Google search and unaware they were buying a resold ticket.

“It is an untenable situation. In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted.

A recent page on Viagogo

“Viagogo’s search advertising is also, we believe, breaking Google’s own AdWords guidelines,” it continues.

“We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising,” the letter concludes. “However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.”

The letter has 24 signatories, including representatives from such groups as UK Music, the Concert Promoters Association and Music Managers Forum.

It also has support from the world of politics, with Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, saying: “It is totally wrong that a trusted website like Google would direct consumers to such an untrustworthy website. Google need to take action in order to protect consumers, and I look forward to working with them on this in the very near future.”

Viagogo have this evening (September 10) provided the following statement to NME about the open letter.

“It is legal to resell a ticket and all tickets on viagogo are genuine.  viagogo  is pleased to have reached resolution with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and welcomes the opportunity to do so with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) through the legal process.

“We respect the courts and the legal process and look forward to resolving this with the CMA in the interests of consumers – not the commercial interests of music promoters and other competitors.”

Last week, Viagogo launched legal action against Ed Sheeran’s promoter Stuart Galbraith for an alleged multi-million pound fraud.