This week, Google quietly announced a new policy that could have a major impact on the ticket resale business. The web giant updated its AdWords system – where companies can bid on certain keywords to have their website pushed to the top of search result pages – to require ticket resellers to certify their websites before they can use the service.
Every ticketing company, primary and secondary, utilizes such Pay-Per-Click services. Simply google any event name, and you’ll see familiar names – Ticketmaster, StubHub, TicketNetwork, Vivid Seats, and others, populate the top of the page, notated as “AD”, before the “organic” search results display.
In the United States, this means that almost every ticketing operation will need to certify before it can use AdWords:
Who Needs to Certify
If you are a reseller or secondary market for event tickets, you need to be certified. This includes businesses that sell tickets both as a primary provider and a reseller.
Aggregators of event tickets, auction sites, and marketplaces that allow ticket resale are also required to be certified.
Ticketmaster, which operates both as a primary seller and a re-seller of tickets, would presumably be included. So would websites like eBay, which would fall under the “aggregator” caveat = though it is unclear whether eBay itself uses any sort of PPC strategy. Obviously websites like StubHub and TicketNetwork here in the U.S. as well as GetMeIN, Seatwave and Viagogo abroad, will need to meet the requirements.
The requirements to certify are fairly straightforward. Businesses wishing to use AdWords must clearly disclose that they are a secondary market and not the primary provider in clearly visible fashion in the top 20% of the website and any pages it sends users to via a paid click campaign. They must also disclose that ticket prices may be above or below the ticket’s “face value” in similarly prominent fashion.
Additionally, resellers “can’t imply in [their] ads that [they are] the primary provider of the tickets, with words like “official” or by including the artist or venue name in the website’s URL.”
Finally, the certification requires that the price breakdown of taxes and any added fees that have been added to the face value of the tickets must be shown during the checkout process – before the customer provides payment information. And, beginning in March, resellers will also need to disclose the face value of the ticket.
Websites can apply for certification beginning in January of 2016.
TicketNews contacted Google AdWords support for some clarification on how certain policies might be applied – particularly how face value and fees might be determined, given the existence of “dynamic pricing” by many primary sellers – but have not yet received details.
We will update this story as more information on the resale policy update by Google becomes available.
Policy specifics via https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/7577050