New research shows the Australian media, marketing and advertising industry were largely unaware of the ACCC’s digital platform inquiry during the first half of 2019.

While it largely focused on Google and Facebook, the competition watchdog’s inquiry also has ramifications for the wider digital advertising ecosystem in terms of the pricing and mechanism surrounding programmatic advertising.

The 18-month inquiry, which released its final report last Friday, recommended further investigation of the digital advertising industry, citing the complexity and opacity of the ad tech supply chain.

However 43 per cent of industry execs said they had never heard of the ACCC’s preliminary report on digital platforms which was released in December. The ACCC also called for industry input regarding the inquiry in February.

The survey of nearly 500 industry execs was conducted between May and June this year by the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA).

Of the marketers and agency professionals surveyed about the ACCC report, seven in 10 had little or no awareness of it. Only three in 10 respondents had read any of the report, or about it, with a quarter of marketers reading articles on it, which was twice that of agencies.

The majority of the 498 survey respondents were media agency execs (193) and marketers (178), with the remainder made up of media owners and ad tech providers. Of all respondents who completed the survey, 42 per cent were considered top executives at a C-suite, GM or MD level, 38 per cent were middle management and 19 per cent junior. A total of 46 per cent of respondents are in “mostly digital roles”.

CEO of AMAA Josanne Ryan said despite the majority of respondents considering that government regulation for global platforms is inevitable, the study indicates that a large proportion of the industry show a dramatic lack of awareness and are uninformed on the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry and the preliminary recommendations.

“The industry has now had a wakeup call and no doubt the final report will be compulsory reading given there is to be a twelve-week consultation period as the government steps in to weigh up no less than 23 recommendations from the ACCC,” Ryan said.

The findings are taken from AMAA Media Trust Research, which will be released in full in coming weeks.

“We have chosen to release a snapshot of our upcoming annual Media Trust Research survey early in light of the ACCC’s releasing the final report of its Digital Platforms Inquiry due to the low level of awareness among the respondents,” Ryan said.

Ryan said she is concerned at what appears to be complacency in the industry, which should make greater commitments to using third party audit and validation processes to increase transparency across the digital ad trading system.

“The industry currently falls short on a cohesive approach to ensuring that industry self-regulation is robust and ensures that industry standards are consistently adhered to in digital ad trading,” Ryan said.

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