UK Markets close in 5 hrs 34 mins

Google suspends advertising from controversial ticket website Viagogo

Natasha Bernal
Viagogo has been banned from advertising on Google - PA

Google has suspended Viagogo, the embattled ticket resale company, as an advertiser amid mounting controversy over illegal touting on its website.

Google's suspension on Wednesday, which was praised by campaigners, comes ahead of planned legal action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It claimed Viagogo has not done enough to change its business practices and safeguard consumers.

In a statement, 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.” 

Google said that it plans to remove advertisements from the company on Wednesday, cutting off a major stream of revenue for Viagogo's ticket sales, which dominated the paid-for results for concerts and plays. 

This suspension will not affect the company's regular search results.  

A November court ruling forced Geneva-based Viagogo to display warnings that tickets bought on the site may not automatically grant entry to venues and was ordered to make changes to its practices to ensure it complied with consumer law. 

However, MPs and campaigners have claimed that fans have continued to fork out hundreds of pounds over and above the standard ticket prices despite the CMA order. 

Sharon Hodgson MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, said: “For years, I have heard from fans who were led to believe that Viagogo was a trusted and official resale website because it appeared at the top of a Google search. I’m pleased that this will no longer occur."

MPs have previously warned the public not to buy or sell tickets through Viagogo until it "fully complies with consumer law".

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee lambasted the business for what it called “misleading sales practices”.

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher said: "UK Music has long urged everyone to say no to Viagogo. We are delighted that Google is finally bowing to public pressure and taking action."

A Viagogo spokesperson said the company was "extremely surprised" to hear about Google's concerns. 

"We are confident that there has been no breach of Google’s policies and look forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible.”