A Google paid-for search ad for the secondary ticketing website Viagogo, seen on 2 March 2018, featured the headline claim “Rolling Stones Olympic Stadium. Huge Selection of Tickets” followed by the URL ticket.viagogo.co.uk/UK/2018-Concerts. Further text in smaller text stated “On Sale Today And Selling Fast, Secure Your Seats Now As Prices Are Rising”.
Three complainants, including the campaign group Fanfair Alliance, challenged whether the ad was misleading because it did not make clear that viagogo was a secondary ticketing website.
viagogo AG t/a viagogo did not believe that consumers would be under the misconception that the ad would lead them to a primary ticketing website or that consumers would be unable to distinguish between primary and secondary ticketing websites. They did not believe that it would, in any case, have a significant impact on their transactional decision.
viagogo said they were a well-known brand for tickets to live events. They said that, because they did not operate both primary and secondary ticketing websites, their brand was consistently associated with the secondary ticketing market since its inception in 2006.
viagogo explained there were multiple ways in which consumers could, and did, purchase event tickets. Those included purchasing tickets directly from the venue, from a primary ticketing website, third party agents or secondary ticketing website. The range of choice enabled consumers to purchase tickets from the medium that best suited their need for a particular event.
viagogo provided the analogy of searching for flights online, where consumers were often presented with results for websites where you can book directly with the relevant airline, third party agents or comparison websites. In such cases, there was no requirement to state in the initial ad what type of website the link would send you to.
viagogo said that the ad was limited in space and therefore it would be difficult for them to include a detailed description of their business and still have enough space to include the ad’s main content. They said that when consumers clicked on one of their ads, the subsequent web page included a clear statement at the top of the page which informed consumers that viagogo was a secondary ticketing website. They said it was also evident from the way tickets were displayed on the website that it was not a primary ticketing website. Therefore, before the customer journey for an individual ticket began, there was a clear and consistent message that they were on a secondary ticketing website.
The ASA understood that the online ticketing market comprised a range of retailer types including primary sellers, ticket agents and secondary ticketing websites. There was also overlap between the activities of those sites; for example some sites sold both primary and capped resale tickets and another provided guarantees through a primary website to offset any concerns consumers might have about buying a ticket second hand.
In that context, we did not consider that consumers would assume that the ad was for a primary ticketing website and did not consider it to be misleading for the ad to omit what type of seller they were. We considered, however, that sites should avoid actively making overt misleading claims, for example by suggesting they were primary ticket sellers when they were not one to ensure that consumers looking specifically for primary ticketing sites were not misled.
We noted, in this case, that the ad did not feature any claims or other content that suggested viagogo was a primary ticketing website. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead consumers.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.