Ticketmaster, one of the primary sellers for tickets to an upcoming Rolling Stones show overseas, is catching flack for paid ads on google search directing fans to its subsidiary secondary marketplaces for tickets – despite the show not being sold out on the primary marketplace.

“Music fans should be absolutely appalled at the latest evidence about the racket that exists to rip them off and make a profit for ticketing agencies,” says MP Pete Wishart in a recent story for the Daily Record. “What we have are primary ticketing agencies owning secondary subsidiaries, allowing touts to sell tickets at inflated prices in which the primary ticketing agency secures a secondary cut.”

Wishart, a former rock musician himself prior to his political career, is reportedly hoping to raise a debate in Parliament to discuss the “glaring conflict of interest thrown up by Ticketmaster owning massive companies who dominate both the primary and secondary markets.”

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

The investigation by the Daily Record showed that paid ads directed fans to Get Me In!, where tickets were on offer for £259 – 156% more than the then-available £101 price on Ticketmaster and AXS. Seatwave – also owned by Ticketmaster – had the same tickets on offer for £486. The Daily Record pointed out that even a search by a user using the terms “Rolling Stones Ticketmaster” displayed the resale websites owned by the primary ticketing agency, rather than its primary outlet.

The use of paid advertisements to pump secondary sites to the top of search results for concert tickets has been in the news frequently of late, as Google has implemented policies to regulate what resale operations are required to disclose for consumers searching for tickets. Ticketmaster, which owns secondary websites Seatwave and GetMeIn abroad, also operates a significant resale operation in the United States, where resale seats are blended in the seatmap right alongside primary tickets.

“This is enormously frustrating,” said Adam Webb of FanFair Alliance, which has vigorously campaigned against all secondary ticketing operations. “Firstly, it’s blatantly misleading the public… Secondly, it highlights the huge competitive advantage that Ticketmaster drive from operating their own profiteering secondary ticketing sites.”