The ACCC is asking for submissions for its inquiry into the digital advertising technology supply chain and advertising agency services in Australia. 

Submissions are open now and close April 21. 

The consumer watchdog is asking for views from companies who buy digital display advertising, ranging from small businesses to global brands, as well as from advertising and media agencies, social media platforms, website owners, app developers, and ad tech services companies.

The ACCC has today released an issues paper for the ad tech inquiry along with fact sheets of key questions for advertisers and ad hosts. 

Rod Sims, ACCC chair said, “This inquiry will allow the ACCC to assess whether these advertising and ad tech markets are operating effectively and, importantly, gauge whether they are working well for a range of different stakeholders. 

“We strongly encourage all interested parties to make sure their views are heard.”

Last month, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg asked the competition watchdog to conduct an 18-month inquiry into the ad tech ecosystem as well as a five-year inquiry which will monitor the market impact of the digital platforms. 

The ACCC wants feedback on the competitiveness, efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of ad tech services and ad agency services. The key issues to be explored in this inquiry include:

  • whether market participants have enough information (including about pricing, rebates and revenue flows) to make informed choices about the use of ad agency and ad tech services
  • competition throughout the ad tech supply chain and in the supply of ad agency services
  • the role and use of data in supplying these services, and
  • whether competition and efficiency are being affected by supplier behaviour, including vertically integrated suppliers preferencing their own services, or by ad tech services businesses or ad agencies not acting in the best interests of their clients.

Interested parties are encouraged to provide information on the issues that are most relevant to their experiences and are not expected to address every question in the issues paper.

Sims explained, “During our Digital Platforms Inquiry, we heard many concerns about the complexity and opacity of ad tech and ad agency services. This has real potential to undermine advertisers’ abilities to choose services that provide the best value for money for them.

“It may also prevent the companies that host those ads from maximising their advertising revenue.”

“Higher prices for advertisers means higher prices for consumers. And lower revenues for ad hosts could in the longer term lead to a reduction in the quality and diversity of online content.”

The ACCC will also use its compulsory information-gathering powers to access information from market participants that is not publicly available.

Sims said, “What an inquiry offers the ACCC is information gathering powers that mean companies are legally obliged to provide us with the detailed information to go deep on these issues. We believe that online display advertising practices certainly warrant some digging.”

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