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ACCC Calls For Action To Slash Google Domination

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – a major Australian Government agency – has again singled out Google for heavy criticism in a blast over the way digital advertising is delivered Down Under.

It yesterday unveiled a new report that claims there is a “real lack of competition, choice and transparency in this industry” and notes that this adds to the cost of advertising for businesses – “which will ultimately impact the prices paid by consumers.”

The report adds: “While there are many ad tech providers in Australia, Google is by far the largest provider of all of the key ad tech services examined by the report, and is the only provider across the full ad tech supply chain that also sells ad inventory.

“The ACCC estimates that Google’s share of the revenue or ads traded in each of the required services in Australia ranges from 50-60 percent to between 90-100 per cent, depending on the service.

“While there are many ad tech providers in Australia, Google is by far the largest provider of all of the key ad tech services examined by the report.

“During this inquiry we have heard concerns from parties about potential conflicts of interest from Google’s various roles in this industry. This includes Google very often acting on behalf of both publishers and advertisers for the same ad sale across the ad tech supply chain, while also selling its own ad inventory.”

The ACCC says it has also heard concerns about the competitive effect of Google’s restrictions on rivals’ access to different types of data – “for example its move to block access to the DoubleClick ID and its proposal to block third-party cookies on Chrome.”

The report calls for feedback on options it has outlined for dealing with the situation. These include establishment of rules to manage potential conflicts of interest and “prevent self-preferencing in the supply of tech services”; and – in an apparent dig at Google – “mandating the breaking up of datasets held by large incumbents, to make it easier for rival ad tech providers to enter and compete in the supply of ad tech services.”

It also supports previous recommendations from a digital platforms inquiry to introduce an “unfair practices” provision and setting up an ombudsman to resolve complaints and disputes.

Submissions to the report are due by February 26.

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