Australian Watchdog Says Google Dominance In Online Ads Harms Competition

Google dominates Australia’s online advertising market to the point of harming publishers, advertisers and ultimately consumers, the country’s antitrust regulator stated, calling for new rules to rein in the Big Tech giant.

A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), published on Tuesday, September 28, stated that more than 90% of clicks on advertisements traded through the Australian “ad tech” supply chain passed through at least one service owned by the Alphabet unit in 2020.

“Google has used its vertically integrated position to operate its ad tech services in a way that has, over time, led to a less competitive ad tech industry,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement, released alongside the report.

“This conduct has helped Google to establish and entrench its dominant position in the ad tech supply chain. We recommend rules be considered to manage conflicts of interest, prevent anti-competitive self-preferencing, and ensure rival ad tech providers can compete on their merits.”

A Google spokesman was not immediately available for comment. In a blogpost published soon before the ACCC’s report, Google wrote that its advertising technology supported more than 15,000 Australian jobs and contributed AU$2.45 billion a year to the country’s economy annually.

The ACCC stated the US company benefited from vast amounts of internet user data from its search engine, mapping, and YouTube video streaming services, and must be more transparent about the way it uses this information to sell advertisements.

The regulator stated it wanted special powers to address the imbalance of advertiser access to consumer data, such as rules forcing them to separate data between business units or share data with competitors.

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