The ACCC Digital Advertising Services Interim Report Findings

 What is the report?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission were charged with an inquiry into the supply of digital advertising technology and agency services by the Treasurer in February 2020.

The ACCC interim report was published on 28 January 2021 and you can find a copy of the report here.

The ACCC’s media release about the interim report findings states that:

  • a lack of competition in ad tech affects publishers, advertisers and consumers
  • ad tech plays a critical role in the advertising market and the digital economy in Australia
  • they noted that Google is the only ad tech provider that also sells inventory
  • Google’s share of revenue from its ad tech varies, from 50-60% through to 90-100%, depending on product or service
  • Google is likely to preference its own ad tech in ways that impact competition
  • YouTube ad inventory only sold via Google platforms
  • There are concerns regarding blocking of Doubleclick IDs and the removal of third party cookies in Chrome.

 

ACCC Chair Rod Sims says,

Advertising technology, or ad tech, has significantly transformed the way that advertising is delivered to consumers online. As consumers live more of their lives online, ad tech plays an increasingly critical role in the advertising market and the wider digital economy.

 

There were also additional findings regarding the proportion of advertiser investment that makes it through to the end of the supply chain (to publisher), reviewing platform, advertising agency and ad tech service fees along the way. This have not been covered in this summary but reviews of that part of the report can be found here and here.

WHAT DOES GOOGLE SAY ABOUT THAT?

Google has published strong responses regarding the interim findings of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report,

Ad tech is a competitive market with low barriers to entry… Google is one of many players

 

Google has made significant efforts and investment in innovation and promotion of a healthy ad tech ecosystem.

 

Google aims to make it clear in their statements regarding the interim findings that their aim is to balance the interests of users, advertisers and publishers. They also said that they make it easy for others to choose who they want to work with, in relation to ad tech service providers. They have also said that they’re willing to be part of a consultative process of submissions prior to the final report being delivered in August 2021.

 

AdNews: Google’s reaction to the ACCCs interim report

 

WHAT DO OTHER COMMENTATORS SAY ABOUT IT?

Discussing the findings, other commentators in the media have asked:

  • is there really a misuse of market power?
  • is this just competitor companies feeling hard done by?
  • is the technology understood?
  • if the misuse exists, does it harm consumers, stifle economic growth, force use, or limit innovation?
  • is this addressing behaviour or punishing success?
  • how does this build a foundation for shared success?

 

Possibly to talk with a wider audience, commentators moved into sports analogies on social media over the few days, with our favourite thread on LinkedIn starting,

This is like the ACCC stepping in to regulate the Richmond Football Club because they’re winning too many premierships.

 

Is it though? Wouldn’t it be more comparable if Richmond also owned the code/the AFL organisation, the TV channels that broadcast the games, the training academies for all players coming through and decided the draw of who played who when, and how often?

 

We’ve collated some links to other commentary regarding the interim report:

Mumbrella: ACCC report not a nefarious anti-competitive conspiracy

AFR: ACCC Moves to Break Up Google’s Ad Tech Dominance

SMH: Google exit could open door for publisher deals with smaller players

B&T: Google ‘One of Many Players’ 

CMO: Google Defends Competition in AdTech Ecosystem

AdNews: ACCC lack of competition and transparency

ITWire: ACCC report claims Google dominates

Which50: Google dominates murky adtech market

Atlassian: 8 questions we think should be answered before regulating technology

Gilbert+Tobin: Tech finds its voice / what should tech policy look like? 

 

The sports thread mentioned above? At last check we had devolved to:

 

 

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ME?

The interim report has only recently been released with the final report not due to be released until August 2021. It is not known what recommendations from the findings will be legislated or whether they will be voluntary. This may play out in the industry media, so we will continue to update you on the progress of this report.

The ACCC is seeking feedback however, so there is still time to have your thoughts heard on the issues raised in the interim report (written submissions due before 26 February 2021) to adtechinquiry@accc.gov.au

IAB Australia has shared this comprehensive list of questions for stakeholders as well as outlined the 6 key policy areas that the ACCC is seeking feedback on.

 

Tell me more…

We reckon you’re probably being asked a bunch of questions regarding these two topics and many may come from colleagues who aren’t close to your digital strategy or are not across the particulars of how digital advertising works.

 

Be the subject expert

It’s important to be across these two topics in particular as they play in the current news cycle and be the SME in your business for it. Gather information, review news alerts daily to see what is happening but it’s also important to…

 

Remain objective

While you’re becoming the SME within the business, it will be easy to form your own opinion on the pros and cons of such legislation and report findings but it is also important to remain objective.  If you are seen as the expert, it could be that stakeholders take your opinion as the organisation’s opinion and may not appreciate that this could change over time, with additional information and insight.

 

Check your audiences

Both the NMBC and the ACCC investigation reference third-party cookies and Chrome. This change has been reported on a lot over the past 12 months and Google isn’t the first platform to instigate this change. However, with this additional focus on data, it is a good time to ensure you have ownership of your audiences and that you are clear about what first party data your business holds.

 

Limit strategy reactions

Now is not the time for knee-jerk reactions or to up-end your digital advertising strategy and media channels. It is critical to remain ready to speak to your customers wherever they are online. 

 

At the moment, we’re watching and waiting as well.  GIFs aside, do get in touch with the team at Datisan if you want to talk through any of this in more detail – we’re here for you.

 

 

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