Google under fire again as Australia hits advertising heft

Google’s dominance of digital advertising technology in Australia needs to be addressed, the country’s competition watchdog said, opening up another front in its battle with the US giant.

In some areas of the market, Google takes in 100% of the revenue or ads traded, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said Thursday. That degree of influence means Google “is likely to have the ability and the incentive” to use its own ad tech businesses and distort competition, the regulator said.

Thursday’s interim report, part of the ACCC’s inquiry into digital advertising services, stokes tensions further between the company and Australian authorities. The Alphabet Inc unit last week threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if the government enacts legislation forcing the company to pay publishers for news.

“There is a real lack of competition, choice and transparency in this industry,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in the statement.

Responding to the report, Google said in a statement the advertising technology market is competitive.

“There are many companies, large and small, working together and in competition with each other,” Google said. “We’ve made it easier for others to choose who they want to work with.”

The company said it will “continue to participate constructively” in the regulator’s inquiry.

The ACCC said it’s seeking feedback on a number of ways to promote competition in advertising technology, including rules to manage conflicts of interest and prevent so-called self-preferencing in the supply of ad tech services.

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