Event Management
December 13, 2017  •  by Sean Burke

Google Begins To Clamp Down On Ticket Resellers

No less than 30 minutes ago, I received an email in my inbox: “Google Adwords Policy Update – Upcoming Event Ticket Resellers Certification Program”. It’s likely that I received this email because I work for a company called Ticketbud, although we do not handle ticket resale.

This is a big deal – for a long time, the whole concept of ticket resale and scalping was a complete Wild West. And regardless of your feelings of regulation and intervention, most people would agree that ticket scalpers were abusing the system with bots and with scripts. The fact that we have companies like Google stepping in is a very big deal.

I’ve been in the internet marketing space for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of times where Google has stepped in, usually for the better. The most poignant example in my mind is in the payday loans industry. If you’re not familiar with a payday loan, how these loans worked is that they were short-term, but had an extremely high-interest rate. These were -supposed- to be covered by your paycheck, but the amount you’d owe on the loan was so immense that you would still be in the hole. Payday loans were predatory, to say the least, as they often targeted low-income households without a lot of economic education. So, as I mentioned earlier, Google stepped in and disallowed all advertising related to them.

Now, Google isn’t disallowing advertising for Ticket Resellers, but they are stepping in and saying that there needs to be more information on what the tickets actually go for. One predatory practice that some ticket resellers used was creating fake sites that made it look like they were the official ticket sellers, and so purchasers would be conned out of their money.

The basics of the new requirement form come down to this:

You can read the whole Requirement form here: https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/7577050?hl=en I’ve summarized it below:

Be honest about your business You can’t imply in your ads that you’re the primary provider of the tickets, with words like “Official” or by including the artist or venue name in the website’s URL. For example, you can’t use “ArtistNameTickets.com” or “VenueNameTickets.com” as your URL.

Provide accurate price information Resellers must also provide a price breakdown during the checkout process and before the customer provides payment information. The breakdown should show the specific costs added, such as taxes and any fees that have been added to the face value of the tickets.

Ticket resellers need to start verifying their business in early January 2018. Although Ticketbud is not a reseller, we plan on becoming certified once the forms become available.

My final thoughts: This is a good move, but it needs to be echoed across all search engines and discovery platforms if this is to truly work. Although this is my initial assumption, I believe that Google will block all ticket resale advertising on their platform until this happens. The next step will be that Google will update its algorithm to start damaging the rankings of resellers that do not comply. Also, if my experience in internet marketing has taught me anything, ticket resellers will be doing just fine. All they will need to do is change how they do business. Cliche: the cream will always rise to the top – those who embrace these changes won’t have a thing to worry about.

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