Controversial secondary ticketing giant Viagogo has already crashed down the online search rankings just 24 hours after Google revealed it was blocking the group from running ads, in the wake of relentless claims that touts are reselling sports and concert tickets at highly inflated, sky-high prices.
The move comes nearly a year after an open letter was sent to senior Google executives, signed by the Football Association, the trade body UK Music and some MPs, urging the company to stop Viagogo from advertising.
Google said it had found Viagogo in breach of its advertising policy and would begin removing its ads yesterday.
Since then the group has plummeted down the “natural search” results and sits below StubHub, TicketSwap, Twickets, and Ticketmaster. However, type the Viagogo name directly into Google and of course it still comes up top. Bizarrely though, as of this morning, it was still advertising tickets for the 2019 Cricket World Cup (pictured), which concluded on Sunday.
A Google spokesperson said: “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach.”
Viagogo was founded in London in 2006 by Harvard graduate Eric Baker and has backing from Index Ventures as well as lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman and Lord Jacob Rothschild.
The group has a network of more than 60 global websites with customers in 160 countries but has never been too far from controversy.
As far back as November 2012, the UK Rugby Football Union took legal action over unlawful ticket sales on the site. It has also faced legal cases in Italy, Spain, Australia, Switzerland, France and Germany.
In May last year, the UK Advertising Standards Authority reported Viagogo to National Trading Standards for its failure to make changes to misleading pricing information on its website. Trading Standards has the power to take the firm to court.
And, earlier this month, the Competition & Markets Authority revealed it is “moving forward with legal proceedings” against the firm, insisting Viagogo has not done enough to change its business practices or to overhaul its website to comply with UK consumer protection law.
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