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Google Starts Reining in Ticket Scalpers

Google started to impose new advertising rules on sports, event and concert ticket resellers Wednesday, requiring them to clearly show that they’re not the primary seller. And beginning next month, resellers will also have to disclose the premium they’re charging over the original ticket price.

“Unfortunately, some ticket resellers provide limited transparency in their ads about ticket costs and fees, as well as their association with a specific venue or event,” wrote Google senior trust & safety director David Graff in a blog post about the motivation behind these changes. “Lack of transparency can erode trust in the online ticket ecosystem and makes it harder for legitimate businesses to reach customers.”

The newly instituted changes to Google’s ad policies require resellers not to imply that they’re the original seller, but instead make it clear to consumers that they’re visiting the site of a reseller or a secondary marketplace. Resellers also have to show that they’re charging more than the original ticket price, and show all extra fees charged before consumers make a payment. And starting in March, they have to show the original ticket price in addition to the price they are charging.

Google first announced these steps all the way back in November, and begun certifying ticket resellers under its new guidelines in January.

The company had been under fire for its role in the growth of ticket scalping. This included an episode in 2017, when resellers sold thousands of tickets to concerts of Ed Sheeran, at times charging ten times as much as the original ticket price. At the time, one of Ed Sheeran’s tour managers told reporters that Google was “aiding and abetting” ticket scalpers by allowing them to run misleading ads.

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