New ‘certification’ of ticket resellers has been introduced today by Google in a move to create greater transparency and make it harder for unregulated ticket touts to operate online.

The moves were announced at the end of 2017 but have only come into full effect today.

In a statement released today Google said:

“Many venues sell tickets directly and some use resellers to help, making it easy to get the seats you want. 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. Lack of transparency can erode trust in the online ticket ecosystem and makes it harder for legitimate businesses to reach customers.”

“We only want companies that offer a great user experience on our platform. Effective today, we are tightening our standards and will require all event ticket resellers to be certified and to radically increase their transparency. This will give users more clarity on the vendor reselling the tickets and the total cost of those tickets, including any associated fees.”

To be certified by Google, an event ticket reseller must:

  • Not imply that they are a primary marketplace
  • Prominently disclose themselves as a ticket reseller/secondary marketplace
  • Prominently disclose that prices may be above face value
  • Provide the total and breakup of the price across fees and taxes before requiring payment information
  • Prominently provide the face value of the tickets being sold in the same currency (this will be required starting in March 2018)

“This updated policy is a result of our own research as well as the insights and feedback we gathered from users, advertisers, partners and third-party industry groups. To allow advertisers time to prepare for this change, we issued a change to our AdWords policy page in November 2017.”

“Transparency, trust and safety for our users will always be top priorities for Google. We remain dedicated to ensuring that the ads our users see are helpful, relevant and trustworthy.”

Certification must be obtained through an online application form in order for the reseller to advertise using AdWords on Google.

The requirements for certification apply to any person or company providing a secondary market and the site lists two requirements in order to be certified.

Be honest about your business

To protect customers from scams and prevent potential confusion, resellers must clearly disclose on their website or app that they are a secondary market and aren’t the primary provider of the tickets. This disclosure should be easily visible and clearly explained in the top 20% of the reseller’s website, including the home page and any landing pages.

This also means you can’t imply in your ads that you’re the primary provider of the tickets, with words like “Official” or by including the artist or venue name in the the website’s URL. For example, you can’t use “ArtistNameTickets.com” or “VenueNameTickets.com” as your URL.

Provide accurate price information

It’s common practice for resellers to mark up the price of tickets, and customers must be aware of it. Resellers must prominently disclose that ticket prices are higher than face value (meaning the price offered by the primary provider). This disclosure should be easily visible and clearly explained in the top 20% of the reseller’s website, including the home page and any landing pages.

Resellers must also provide a price breakdown during the checkout process and before the customer provides payment information. The breakdown should show the specific costs added, such as taxes and any fees that have been added.

In March 2018, resellers will also need to provide the face value of a ticket along with the reseller’s price, and in the same currency.

The change has been well flagged and will not impact on the majority of reputable sites offering tickets for sale but will be seen as a step forward in creating a fairer marketplace.