De Silva: online advertising markets too national for EU review

Charley Connor

04 May 2018

De Silva: online advertising markets too national for EU review

Isabelle de Silva

The president of France’s Competition Authority has said online advertising markets remain “very strongly national”, which would make it difficult for the European Commission to conduct a study into that sector. Charley Connor at GCR Live TMT

Speaking today at GCR Live’s seventh annual media, telecoms and technology conference in London, Isabelle de Silva said it would be difficult for the European Commission to conduct an online advertising study at a wider EU level because it would be very hard to analyse all of the national players in the markets of individual member states.

Although there are some “international tendencies” and the same general processes in the US and in Europe, “specificities” exist at national level, she said without providing further detail clarifying her remarks.

De Silva compared a recent online advertising study by France’s competition watchdog with an inquiry in 2017 by the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets.

Although big players like Facebook and Google play a “major role”, the national markets contain different players and the enforcers’ studies identified different issues, she said.

The French inquiry found in March that the online advertising sector is bigger than traditional media advertising markets and is growing at 12% per year. The report raised concerns about dominant players using bundled advertising, data collection, data sales and lack of transparency in the market.

Conversely, the Dutch study concluded that there were no competition concerns in the online video advertising market. It said large players like Facebook and YouTube faced competition from each other and smaller companies, while also noting that access to large quantities of data was not an “insurmountable barrier” to entry.

De Silva said the French competition authority’s next issue will be deciding whether it is still relevant to differentiate between the television advertising market and the online advertising markets, as distinguishing these markets has “consequences for competition”.

She noted that it can be hard for competition authorities to enforce within the digital market because it can change in a matter of weeks. For example, Apple’s recent amendments to its data-gathering policy had a huge effect on French companies using targeted advertisements, she said.

Speaking more generally about enforcement in the media, telecoms and technology markets, De Silva said the French authority will conduct a study into the smartphone, technical assistance and artificial intelligence markets within the next year, although it has not yet formalised any inquiries.

“There are specific competitive issues raised by those particular markets that we want to consider,” she said.

The GCR Live Telecoms, Media and Technology conference in London concluded today.

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