A Reminder: Clicking The First Link You See In Google Isn’t Always Such A Great Idea

Theatregoers, beware. Well, actually, people who are out to buy much of anything, beware. Just typing what you’re looking for into Google and clicking on the first link you see can lead to a world of trouble. Or at least a world of overpayment. That’s what Doug learned when he went to surprise his wife with tickets to the musical version of her favorite movie. He clicked on one of the top links, which he didn’t realize were sponsored ones.

Those first links (and many of the top links when you just type “show name city” into Google) are sponsored ones, and the only people paying to sponsor links are ticket resellers.

I never realized how bad the ads in a Google search where until I got burned. In the past I remember them being displayed as ads so they wouldn’t confuse you from the search results.
My wife’s favorite movie is Elf, after hearing they had a musical and it was being shown in my area I decided to look into getting tickets. The first time I looked I was shocked at how much the tickets cost and didn’t think it was worth it. After a couple days I figured it would be a good gift to her and searched for “elf the musical Seattle”. First link looked promising and after finding good seats at what I thought was a reasonable price I bought them. Having never been to a musical I had no idea on prices and figured they would just be higher then going to see a band.

Three days later I get my tickets in the mail and realize they are just printed out e-tickets, that didnt bother me. What did bother me is it listed the price of the ticket and service fee and said if you paid more for this ticket you didn’t buy the the venue. Ticket price on the E-ticket is $96, service fee of $10, for a total of $106. I paid $262, service fee $39.30, shipping $15. Without shipping I over paid $390.60. That really hurts. That would almost cover my surprise vet visit this week. I have been trusting Google to provide me with the best search results for years and this hurts. After realizing this I installed AdBlock, it removed the top four searches from the results. Four results that where not flagged as Ads.

My advice to everyone is when buying tickets, look up the venue and try to buy directly from them, and install some adblocking extention or software. Ads are not something that take up space on a website, they may cost you money if you dont realize your clicking on one and do your homework.

We tried running the same search as Doug on a browser without ad-blocking software. Yes, fine print declares those top results to be ads, and they’re on a pale yellow background instead of a white one.