The live event promoter lobby won a victory over secondary ticketing competition, as a Paris court ruled that Google cannot allow ticket resale companies to advertise on its search platforms without permission from the promoters. The ruling will likely limit fans from finding non-primary ticket inventory, forcing them to pay full “retail” price even for performances where the secondary market offers better prices.
Despite rules implemented in recent years requiring ticket resale operations to disclose that they are not an official venue or ticketing agency but rather a resale marketplace (as well as the word “AD” showing up on paid search listings), music industry insiders have long pushed the narrative that consumers are unaware that they are purchasing secondary market tickets and therefore being deceived. As such, they have continued to push for increasingly harsh regulation against ticket resale both in general and in advertising standards for platforms such as Google.
Secondary ticketing is already regulated in France, which requires permission from an event promoter to list tickets for sale – a tall order when ticketing agencies and promoters have turned to increasing restrictions on consumer rights regarding tickets they have already paid for but cannot use across the globe. Ticket resale operators outside of France, however, were still able to advertise tickets listed on their marketplaces through the Google ads platform, adding liquidity and competition to the market for buyers.
Trade group PRODISS led the charge to get Google ads competition for tickets banned in France, pushing to have the U.S.-based search giant extend French law to advertisers based outside of that country so long as the tickets in question were for events within it. And the courts went along with the lobby.
With the ruling, Google is not allowed to sell keywords to advertisers related to shows in France without the promoters permission, whether the advertiser is a sovereign citizen of a nation with less regressive marketplace rules for ticketing or not. Further, the court ruled that Google can be liable for “reputational damage” for companies in the entertainment industry who feel they are unjustly targeted by consumer complaints over prices spiraling ever-higher when secondary ticket companies point out that primary tickets are more expensive than ever due to “slow ticketing” practices that attempt to maximize sale price for every seat in the house, then dump unsold inventory at a steep discount to ensure that seats aren’t empty as the show date approaches.
FEAT, which campaigns against ticketing competition from secondary resale platforms, lauded the ruling. The courts decision “is significant as it is an acknowledgement of the role that advertising platforms play in illegal sales,” it said. “Far from being viewed as passive, [Google] must accept responsibility for their role in facilitating illegal activity.”
Google was ordered to pay PRODISS 40,000 Euros in damages and an additional 20,000 euros under article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) according to IQ-Mag. The search giant has a month to comply with the terms of the ruling.