Submission in Response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Ad Tech Inquiry Issues Paper
28 Pages Posted: 18 May 2020
Date Written: April 26, 2020
The ad tech sector is founded on consumers’ personal data. Technological advances have provided growing opportunities for firms to profit by predicting, prompting, manipulating and measuring consumers’ behaviour on a daily basis. This has led publishers, marketers and ad tech service providers to increasingly monitor and track individuals online and offline in the service of consumer profiling, behavioural advertising and attribution of consumer responses.
Realising that this extensive collection and use of personal data is against the preferences of many consumers, firms have taken measures to make this data collection less visible, obfuscate their data practices in opaque privacy policies, make spurious claims that data is “de-identified”, create the illusion of consumer control and choice where little exists, and circumvent consumers’ attempts to avoid the collection of their personal data and monitoring of their behaviour.
In advertising markets, ad tech vendors provide highly sophisticated algorithmic tools and instantaneous auction processes. These give the appearance of almost frictionless allocation of available advertising inventory to marketers who value it the most. However, in addition to the distortions in these processes that result from the opacity of the ad tech supply chain, the analysis of competition in these markets should take into account the fundamental distortion that results from the anticompetitive and consumer-harming data practices in the primary markets in which that data is collected.
Keywords: Ad tech, antitrust, data privacy, behavioural advertising, targeted advertising, competition, adtech, consumer protection, programmatic advertising, real-time bidding, de-identification, re-identification, unique identifiers, anticompetitive, digital advertising
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