As the guidelines and requirements of Google’s recent declaration continue to be unpacked and sorted out, one huge question hangs over the world of ticketing: According to the rules Google has proposed for secondary sales sites that want to be certified to advertise using their AdWords system, the Federal Trade Commission’s definition of “face value” may have to be thrown out. Which way will the Google AdWords certification process move the definition of the core meaning of a ticket’s price – particularly in a world of dynamic prices.
Currently, FTC rules define “face value” as “the price at which the Ticket is offered for sale by the primary seller in the normal course, including all attendant fees and charges imposed by or required to be collected by the venue, primary seller, or original ticket issuer, or other entity authorized by the venue, primary seller, or original ticket issuer, such as, pro-rata license fees, Ticket package fees, bundled add-on fees, service fees, taxes (state, municipal, venue renovation, entertainment, or other levies), or any other charges.
Under the proposed certification process, websites offering tickets for resale would need to disclose the face value, as well as any taxes and added fees broken out – before the consumer enters credit card information. This would force resale operations to adhere to rules which the FTC doesn’t hold any business to – including primary sellers like Ticketmaster, which doesn’t display fees or taxes until the final stage of a transaction.
Industry sources have indicated that Google’s final requirements are still being hammered out, with input from all sides. The original date by which sites hoping to certify to use Ad Words (AKA every primary and secondary ticket seller in existence) came and went on January 29. It is unclear whether or not the certification will be a straight yes/no decision from Google, or if there will be a process of fine-tuning to achieve certification for those who don’t meet the initial guidelines, particularly given their currently ill-defined nature.
We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available. At this point, we aren’t even certain whether or not primary sites which offer resale tickets as part of the same display (Ticketmaster and AXS being the obvious main examples) will also have to meet these new requirements, or if they will need to separate secondary inventory from primary sales.
Request for comment and clarification from both the Federal Trade Commission and Google on Thursday afternoon have gone unanswered at this time. We will update this post with any details or statement provided by either.