Today, the CMA published its interim report on Online Platforms and Digital Advertising. The report marks the culmination of market study undertaken by the CMA to date. The study itself stemmed from a recommendation in the Furman Review into competition policy more broadly. techUK is pleased to see the UK taking a lead on this issue in a holistic and thoughtful way.
The approach the CMA has taken to gain a greater understanding of the online platform and digital advertising market is hugely welcome. techUK firmly believes in open competition and an informed regulator are vital to securing a fair and well-functioning market economy. The CMA’s interim report is welcome precisely for this reason, showing their efforts not only to build their depth of understanding of a technical marketplace, but also in putting forward these ideas and assumptions to be tested in a consultation. techUK looks forward to engaging with the consultation fully.
Digital advertising has become the backbone of the modern internet, underpinning business models new and old that enable consumers to access and use a range of products and services without any upfront cost. The CMA acknowledges the innovation and value that online services have brought, and their assessment that ‘big’ does not necessarily mean ‘bad’ is a helpful framing for the rest of the document.
Personalised advertising brings enormous value to consumers, businesses, advertisers and publishers alike. Studies have shown that consumers prefer personalised advertisements they feel better matches their interests, and research by Which? found that people felt targeted adverts were “innocuous” with “little concern that….[they] will restrict choice”. However, techUK agrees with the CMA that it is important that citizens feel in control over how their data is collected and processed. Our members are continually working to improve tools and services to give users more power and oversight, but it is also imperative that take-up of existing tools increased.
Open markets, robust competition and consumer choice about how their data is used is essential to ensuring a healthy marketplace that retains the many benefits that a vibrant digital marketing ecosystem brings. In looking at any enforcement or remedies the CMA must be careful not to take any action that would upset this balance or hamper practices that benefit a wide range of stakeholders.
techUK is committed to working with the CMA and the new Government over the coming months to ensure find a way forward that supports competition and innovation whilst protecting consumers.