Google just threw away millions in ad revenue from ticketed events. Here's why...
by Jackie A
3 months ago
Last week Google banned Viagogo from advertising with them
Which means this dodgy site that resells tickets to your favourite artists at hyper inflated prices can no longer buy its way to the top of Google's search rankings and present itself as an "official" site. “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust,” said Google. Finally.
Viagogo would pay Google up to £10 per click
Legit ticketing company Kilimanjaro Live pays Google around £1 per click. Its CEO Stuart Galbraith said resale sites could afford to “pay £10 [per click] if they’re making £500” on a ticket. Srsly.
The ban follows years of pressure from the music industry and government
Channel 4's Dispatches called them out back in 2012 by revealing gig promoters allocated tickets to Viagogo before they went on sale to fans. By 2017, music industry group FanFair Alliance, backed by artists including Adele and Nick Cave, were demanding Google remove Viagogo ads. “This is a landmark moment, and a major step to preventing exploitation of audiences,” said FanFair Alliance.
Viagogo couldn't care less
It still refuses to comply with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority and is being sued by them for continuing to mislead consumers. In 2017 Viagogostuck two fingers up at the UK's parliamentary select committee hearing and refused to attend. When fans holding Viagogo tickets for Ed Sheeran’s UK tour last year were denied access, in line with publicised plans to crack down on resellers, the company claimed promoters were acting "illegally". It's response to Google's ban? From its Swiss base (better to hide accounts from the public eye), it claimed to be “extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns”.
Its belligerence lies in a market worth $15 billion
The online event ticketing market is expected to reach $68 billion by 2025 and by next year the secondary resale market will bring in over $15 billion. It's fed by high-tech "bots" enabling ticket scalpers to snap up as much of the event allocation as possible, forcing real fans to buy back the same tickets at inflated prices. FYI most ticket buyers will be non human in years to come - bots now account for 42% of activity on primary ticketing platforms. The consumer cannot win.
None of the resale money goes to the performers
Or their management, or staff at the venues hosting the events. Apparently. Though read this recent story about Live Nation and you may have doubts. But largely, the $15.2 billion in scalped ticket revenues does not support the music industry. And the only fans it benefits are those willing to pay anything last minute to go to a "sold out" concert.
Viagogo is run by a reclusive millionaire American called Eric Baker who lives in London
Stanford and Harvard educated, Baker, 46, has been making money from concertgoer's misery with the help of Google for decades. In 2000 he founded StubHub, now the world's largest secondary-market ticket marketplace. He set up Viagogo after selling StubHub to eBay in 2007 for $304m. One former employee has said Baker saw himself as "a consumer champion.” Right. Look at what disgruntled music fans say about him.
Secondary websites paying Google to be on top continue to cheat consumers - and no-one is stopping them
Take the UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - DVLA. Type in: "How to get a new driver's license" and the first one to pop up is actually dvlalicenceapply.co.uk which has probably paid Google lots of moolah to be on top. Looks similar, does the same job but their price for a lost or stolen licence? £77.60. On the DVLA's website? £21.50.
Google should have done this years ago
Following Google's suddenly magnanimity, the UK's Labour MP Sharon Hodgson said: “A well-respected brand such as Google should have done this a long time ago." It's easier to part with money when you now make almost $116.3 billion a year in ad revenues, like Google did in 2018. Facebook - over to you now.
Some have no qualms doing business with Viagogo - Manchester City Football Club for one. It tries to hide their resale partnership at the end of a very long list here, ironically right above stern warnings about terrible unauthorised sellers peddling inflated tickets. You can't make it up.
And what does City get from this deal, one wonders?