Back in February this year, the ACCC initiated an inquiry into digital advertising platforms. The outcome was a rolling 6 monthly report “to monitor digital platform services and their impact on competition and consumers” over a period of five years. On 23 October the ACCC released its first report – the September 2020 interim report. This first report focuses on private messaging services and the capture and use of consumer data by platforms services for other purposes, including marketing.

Here’s all 186 pages of the ACCC Interim report in summary:

Digital private messaging

Facebook and apple hugely dominate the online messaging market. Given that a new entrant to market would have to gain friends and family of the user to switch also, it is an extremely hard market to penetrate, coupled with the fact that messenger services are not interoperable.

Concerns over privacy

The report criticises the tech giants for the obscure nature of language regarding cookie use, and in some cases promoting the benefits of cookies to prevent them from turning them off. Which if you were cynical, you’d say were used for marketing purposes.

Google and Facebook dominate

The most shocking (insert sarcasm) finding of the report is that the two players are still dominant in search and social respectively. However, it’s worth noting that DuckDuckGo (search engine player) increased it’s search traffic by 61% YoY ending June20, indicating some disruption and dissatisfaction in the market with Google, but there’s a long way to go before a takeover happens – just ask Bing. 

Dominance of paid ads in search

Small businesses are put at a disadvantage by the disparity of search results on desktop vs mobile. On mobile devices the results page is dominated by paid results, and organic does not get a look in, in contrast to more balance between SEO and SEM on desktop. This poses a concern for small businesses, when the majority of search traffic comes from mobile.

Overall, no action is being taken from these findings – yet. The first report is simply an observation, and we expect many more to come before action happens.

Stay tuned for the second report due around March 2021, the next one will be on app marketplaces.

Access to the full report is here.

Read our other articles related to the ACCC report here