Internet giant Google has been urged to stop accepting money from Viagogo to place the ticket website at the top of its search rankings; the request came, in an open letter, with 24 signatories, including a host of MPs, trade bodies and associations from the worlds of sports, theatre and music.
The document was sent to senior Google executives and - as "The Guardian" reported - it says that Viagogo’s prominence in search rankings is leading to consumers buying sports, music and theatre tickets that may be invalid; moreover fans are being directed to the site, a common conduit for touts to resell tickets at vast markups, even when face-value tickets are still on sale elsewhere.
The letter says:
In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted. We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising. However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.
The UK website of Viagogo, which has faced a barrage of criticism for controversial business practices, derives 75% of its website traffic from search engine referrals, according to data analysis website SimilarWeb.
Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, among the letter’s signatories, said:
I have heard too many times from distressed customers of Viagogo that they were led to the website because it was at the top of their Google search. It is totally wrong that a trusted website like Google would direct consumers to such an untrustworthy website. Google needs to take action in order to protect consumers, and I look forward to working with them on this in the very near future.
Then the letter calls for Google to ban Viagogo from using AdWords, which allows companies to leapfrog to the top of search results, in exchange for a fee every time someone clicks on the paid-for link.
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