The frustration of searching for Ed Sheeran tickets online only to see them being sold at outrageous, inflated prices is an issue that Google is tackling head-on. In 2017, the internet-search giant announced its intentions to reform the ticket resale market by forcing secondary ticket sale platforms to market transparently or take their business elsewhere. Implemented in February 2018, these new regulations have garnered mostly positive reviews.

Why does Google care?

As an internet giant, the online search for event tickets largely takes place through Google’s platform. Unfortunately, consumers have in the past been susceptible to clicking the first handful of links rendered by a given Google search, leading secondary ticketing platforms to rapidly accumulate business. Particularly of the United Kingdom, consumers then find themselves paying inordinate fees in exchange for concert tickets, as these resellers, known as scalpers, increase ticket prices.

What does this mean for scalpers?

Google’s new regulations focus on the two greatest issues with ticket scalping: (1) tickets are susceptible to being resold at inflated prices, and (2) scalping platforms have, in the past, allowed the public to believe its affiliation with official box offices.

Seeking to truly be the change the world wishes to see, Google now requires ticket resellers to become certified before they can advertise through the search giant. In order to become certified with Google, resellers must agree to:

  • Include all pricing information, including fees and taxes, in the total cost of a ticket before checkout.
  • Make it known to customers that tickets may be sold at a rate higher than face value.
  • Include the face value of the tickets, alongside the new resale price.

For scalpers, Google’s new regulations may mean a slight dip in business. The scalping industry’s claim to profit was its prior ability to market without clarifying its lack of affiliation with official event box office. The new requirement to state this lack of affiliation on scalping platforms’ homepages may potentially lead to delegitimization.

On the bright side, these new regulations bring further transparency to the world of online ticketing. Google reformed its requirements due to the common complaint that scalpers are illegitimate compared to official box office ticketers. Transparency requirements seek to close the gap between the legitimate and illegitimate, by at the very least informing consumers about their online purchases.


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