CRA urges action over Google & Facebook’s control of user data

Former Assistant Editor

Peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia has raised concerns over how tech giants Google and Facebook collect user data on digital platforms operated by radio stations.

CRA has made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Ad Tech Inquiry, expressing concern over the two companies’ increasing monopolisation of the collection and control of customer data.

Concerns over an increased concentration of data landing in the hands of Facebook and Google as a result of future attempts to limit access to data in the ad tech chain were also raised.

“CRA urges the ACCC to investigate closely whether Google and Facebook are using their monopoly positions to distort the ad tech chain by using pricing, commission, referrals or bundling structures that unfairly favour certain parties over others,” reads CRA’s submission.

“It is vital that any such practices are exposed, to ensure that all media players operate on a level playing field in terms of attracting advertising revenue.”

Commercial Radio Australia believes that radio, as a publisher, should receive more information about how the pricing of various parts of the ad tech supply chain take place, and that digital platforms should be forced to disclose commission or referral structures.

“Increased advertising revenue enables digital platforms to continue to invest, market more widely, buy up competitors and expand their monopolies and influence,” says the submission.

“In the long term, this is likely to be at the expense of Australian local media platforms and the provision of quality content.”

The way that Google and Facebook collect and use consumer data currently “makes it hard for traditional media platforms to compete on commercially equal terms, both in terms of competing for the advertising dollar and establishing new business models.”

Google and Facebook should be forced to use independent third parties to verify their audience reach claims, insists CRA, because such platforms are known to use metrics to sell ad space that are “distorted, misleading and poorly understood.”

CRA concludes that “the ‘walled garden’ approach to advertising metrics particularly impacts on clients likely to advertise on commercial radio, as the digital platforms’ techniques tend to be effective in persuading small to medium sized businesses, such as local tradespeople and shops.

“These are businesses that provide the backbone of commercial radio advertising, particularly in regional areas.”

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