Digital Transformation

ACCC calls for more input from Australia's ad industry for its inquiry into Facebook and Google

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

February 28, 2019 | 4 min read

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has called on the advertising industry to provide feedback on several preliminary recommendations before its digital platforms inquiry final report in June.

The report was launched to analyse issues about the digital advertising supply chain that could affect Australian advertisers, including how advertising is verified on platforms like Facebook and Google.

It also raised concerns about the market power of the two media and technology giants including the companies impact on Australian businesses, particularly their ability to monetize content, as well as outlined concerns about the extent that consumers data is collected and used by companies to target advertising.

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ACCC chair Rod Sims has called on the advertising industry to provide feedback.

In a speech delivered to the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) and ThinkTV audience of marketing and television advertising executives in Sydney yesterday (February 27), ACCC chair Rod Sims said being big is not a sin as Australian competition law does not prohibit a business from possessing substantial market power or using its efficiencies or skills to outperform its rivals.

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However, he added the dominance held by Google and Facebook in certain markets, plus the incentives they face does mean their conduct should be subject to scrutiny to identify whether it is creating competitive or consumer harm.

“It is important that we better understand the issues with the ad tech supply chain because a lack of transparency means that advertisers do not know what they are paying for, where their advertisements are being displayed, and to whom,” explained Sims.

“Higher advertising prices ultimately translate to higher prices for consumers for products and services.”

Sims also said the ACCC has not yet reached a view as to whether the existing arrangements on Facebook and Google are enough to address the issue. This is an issue it hopes to achieve clarity on before its final report in June.

Facebook has sought to appease the market and avoid regulation by announcing an A$5m ($3.6m) investment in the Australian news ecosystem to support journalists, academics and news organizations.

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