The UK antitrust authority is launching a long-awaited investigation into the dominance of social media giants, such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc, in digital advertising markets.
The Competition and Markets Authority said that if it found that companies’ market power was hurting competition, it would consider establishing a stricter regulatory regime. The new rules could limit the way companies set prices with advertisers, he said. Some separation of business units could also be appropriate, the regulator said.
The CMA joins other European regulators to examine how the online advertising market works. French and German antitrust authorities have been watching the market separately, with France’s competition agency pointing to the scale of Google’s data and ad supply as a potential concern. Data protection authorities are also examining the advertising tender process and how you can share personal information.
The agency said it would consider how technology companies control personal data and whether it makes it difficult for rivals to compete. CMA executives have always been interested in launching the investigation, but were hampered by concerns about Brexit and the role of the regulator when Britain leaves the European Union.
The regulator has one year to conduct the study, but will publish its interim results, even if a “market research benchmark” is required, within six months.
Authority officials have repeatedly pointed out that in a post-Brexit world, they are determined to step up scrutiny of the online space. In their speeches and seminars, CEO Andrea Coscelli and other directors reverted to previous deals, such as Facebook Inc’s purchase of Instagram in 2012, and said the approval was a mistake.