The FanFair Alliance has this week published new research into secondary ticketing platforms that pay for prominent placement on search engines– a practice that can divert fans away from primary platforms and further distorts the boundaries between primary and secondary sites.
FanFair looked at ticket sales for 100 upcoming UK tours, with artists ranging from Cliff Richard to Run the Jewels (now there is an idea for a future collaboration!). They discovered that secondary ticketing website had paid to top Google rankings on 77% of these, with only six of the 100 tours sold out- meaning that the majority still had tickets on-sale for face value via primary sellers. The research also revealed that 94% of Google searches for tickets featured a secondary ticketing platform in the top two results.
33 UK music festivals were also scrutinised, with ticket searches for events including the Proms, the Eden Sessions, SW4, Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling. A secondary site had paid Google to top search results for 17 of these, with six events sold-out. For festivals, secondary sites were among the top two search results on 91% of occasions.
The organisation said in a statement: “The reason that Viagogo and other secondary sites can manipulate Google search in this way is simple – it’s because they can afford to. Their business model is practically risk-free and their service fees are typically set at around 20%-30% of the resale price. As a result, when purchasing AdWords they can outbid authorised ticket sellers whose charges are significantly less”.
It continued; “FanFair has brought these practices to the attention of regulators and Google itself, but until action is taken we strongly recommend that would-be ticket buyers give search engines a swerve and check first with the artist or festival website”.
On that note, the group recently published a free online guide which you download helpfully called ‘Tips For Beating The Touts When Buying Music Tickets Online’.
All of which should feed into the ongoing debate around how much responsibility Google et al should take for content appearing on their platforms as a result of search spend. Ultimately, these sites are more than platforms, they are publishers and they seem to currently be enabling nefarious and misleading practices from the secondary sites.
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