UK Wants To Know How Powerful Facebook And Google Ads Are

September 20, 2019

The United Kingdom recently blew the whistle on Facebook and Google, so they can understand how much advertising space both tech companies control. ZDNet reports on the situation in, “UK Watchdog Single Out Google, Facebook In Advertising Probe.” The UK is concerned that Google and Facebook dominate too much advertising space, squarely kicking the competition out of the ring. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will launch a new market study about online platforms and digital advertising. The CMA wants to determine if Google and Facebook are harming UK consumers.

“The report will examine the potential risk factors and harm which could be impacting consumers today in the world of online advertising. The main areas CMA cites (.PDF) as worthy of investigation are:

  1. To what extent online platforms have market power in user-facing markets;
  2. Whether consumers are able and willing to control how data about them is used and collected by online platforms;
  3. Whether competition in the digital advertising market may be distorted by any market power held by platforms”

According to the article, about 50% of all UK advertising budgets are spent on digital advertising. Google and Facebook control the majority of the market, predicted to be 70% by 2020. With so many eyes focused on the two companies, both wield a lot of power. The CMA wants to ensure consumers know how Facebook and Google are using their personal information and if it poses risks to consumers.

The CMA also wants to prevent a dual monopoly, which would hamper economic growth and prevent new advertisers from entering the market. In regards to market dominance the CMA is investigating five points: ‘this includes methods to improve competition through open standards and data; means to lower the barriers to entry by competitors; ways to increase consumer data protection; and an examination of data consent rules to encourage a “fairness by design” architecture.’”

This is what government is supposed to do! The CMA is looking out for consumers and preventing monopolies that could potentially upend UK markets. The CMA wants Facebook and Google to be responsible for its actions which seems reasonable.

Whitney Grace, September 20, 2019

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