Australia looks to break Google's grip on online advertising

Australian watchdog accuses Google of undermining rivals, preventing competition.

Australia looks to break Google's grip on online advertising

Australia’s competition regulator on Tuesday called for new rules to curb Google’s dominance in the country’s online advertising market.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said its inquiry into advertising technology, or ad tech, “identified significant competition concerns and likely harms to publishers, advertisers and, ultimately, consumers.”

“Google’s dominance in the ad tech supply chain is underpinned by multiple factors including its access to consumer and other data, access to exclusive inventory and integration across its ad tech services,” read an ACCC statement.

The regulator found that Google has “a dominant position in key parts of the ad tech supply chain and estimates that more than 90% of ad impressions traded via the ad tech supply chain passed through at least one Google service in 2020.”

Google has used its position to preference its own services and shield them from competition, while also refusing to participate in initiatives aimed at increasing competition, according to the ACCC.

“For example, Google prevents rival ad tech services from accessing ads on YouTube, providing its own ad tech services with an important advantage,” the Australian authority said.

Rod Sims, head of the ACCC, said Google’s actions have “led to a less competitive ad tech industry.”

“This conduct has helped Google to establish and entrench its dominant position in the ad tech supply chain,” he said, adding that the ACCC is “considering specific allegations against Google under existing competition laws.”

However, he pointed out that Australia’s existing competition laws “are not well suited to deal with these sorts of broad concerns,” calling for more power to develop sector-specific rules.

“New regulatory solutions are needed to address Google’s dominance and to restore competition to the ad tech sector for the benefit of businesses and consumers,” Sims suggested.

“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.”

Earlier this year, Australia implemented a new law forcing tech companies to pay local media for news content displayed on their platforms – a move that Google and Facebook initially resisted before striking deals with media groups.


Hüseyin Demir