Most of the pariah site’s business has been generated via advertising on the world’s biggest search engine and thousands have complained that they were misled when they bought tickets for gigs.
The Record’s Stub Out The Touts campaign has highlighted repeatedly how Google facilitated Viagogo and other secondary ticket sites as they combined with touts to rip off fans.
Pressure group FanFair Alliance, which was instrumental in building pressure of Google to act, last night hailed the decision by the online advertising giant which is expected to massively damage the company’s profits.
He said: “This is a landmark moment, and a major step forward to preventing exploitation of audiences in the secondary ticketing market.
“After publishing extensive research highlighting the impacts of Viagogo’s misleading search advertising, FanFair Alliance has been in constructive conversations with Google for over two years in an attempt to address this issue.
Google have set about removing Viagogo’s ads tonight.
A spokesman 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.”
The Daily Record was the first to demand that Google takes action and our calls were soon followed by the several MPs and trade body UK Music.
In March last year we told how Rolling Stones fans were being led to buy tickets from Viagogo after Google searches led them straight to the site at the top of the listings.
Many fans shelled out more than £300 despite the fact stranding tickets were still on sale at primary site Ticketmaster.
Even searching for “Rolling Stones Ticketmaster” were directed to Viagogo at the top of listings – a ploy used by the touts site to great effect on millions of occasions.
Google’s decision comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) claimed earlier this month it would go ahead with legal proceedings against Viagogo following repeated warnings over its compliance with consumer protection law.
The CMA said its contempt of court action followed several warnings that the company had not done enough to overhaul the way it presents information on its website to comply with the law.
Minister for digital and the creative industries Margot James said: “Viagogo have routinely flouted the rules and I’m pleased to see Google taking proactive steps to protect consumers.”
Claire Turnham, who was awarded an MBE for her work in securing refunds for consumers who bought tickets from Viagogo, said she was “ecstatic”.
She said: “Given almost every victim of Viagogo across the UK and beyond comes via Google we are thrilled they have taken this definitive action to protect the public from ticket abuse worldwide.”
Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who chairs a cross-party group on ticketing, said: “A well respected brand, such as Google, should have done this a long time ago. But I am now pleased that this step has been taken, which will protect consumers and fans.
“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.”
Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which has investigated Viagogo, hailed the big step, tweeting: “Excellent news for consumers and venues and something @CommonsCMS has been calling for.”
Sam Shemtob, Director of Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) said: “ “This is a hugely significant step — Google is the first port of call for fans searching for gig tickets across the world.
“The move appears to have been triggered by recent court proceedings led by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority as well as pressure from the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
“It’s worth noting the work of the UK’s FanFair Alliance, Spain’s Association of Music Promoters and French live music industry association Prodiss, who have been engaged in multiple conversations on the issue with Google, some of which date back to 2016.
“We hope other search engines and social media platforms will follow suit.”
A Viagogo spokesman said: “We were extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns today. 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.”