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As we know, the ACCC has been investing a significant amount of time and effort into how tech giants operate in Australia. What started as the Digital Platforms Inquiry ultimately led to the recent News Media Bargaining Code, which was passed into law earlier this year.

And while the focus of that inquiry was on whether tech giants should pay for news content, the focus is now on how Australia’s advertising technology ecosystem operates, with the Digital advertising services inquiry launching earlier this year. Naturally, we can expect there will be plenty of attention around how both Google and Facebook operate their advertising business.

However, the 222-page interim report into digital advertising services also contains some valuable insights into the wider advertising technology supply chain and looks at the role of data in this ecosystem. 

The ACCC raised the idea of data as a barrier to entry or expansion, with new entrants into the market significantly disadvantaged by their lack of data, especially when compared to a company such as Google. It is suggested in the report that with 60 consumer-facing services that are widely-used by Australians, Google has “a reliable source of logged-in user data on a significant proportion of Australia’s current population of approximately 25 million”. 

“The ACCC considers that the inability of smaller rivals to access the necessary types and volumes of data to compete effectively with Google and Facebook is likely to raise barriers to entry or expansion,” the report says.

The ACCC does propose some potential remedies to alleviate these issues and ‘data barriers’. Primarily, it is suggested that introducing measures to improve data portability and interoperability could create a more level playing field when it comes to ad tech. 

What is data portability and interoperability?

Data portability and interoperability can broadly be defined as making it easier to move data around. Data portability is all about giving consumers greater control of how their data is shared and collected, while data interoperability occurs more so at the enterprise level, and therefore is more focused on aggregated and anonymised data. 

The way the ACCC sees it, giving consumers greater control over how they control their data in the context of online advertising would promote competition in the supply of ad tech services. The report uses the example of an individual asking either Google or Facebook to make their data available to a publisher or another digital platform, to ensure personalised advertising offerings can be made while still keeping the end user in control. A common user or transaction ID – such as the Unified ID 2.0 – might be an example of data interoperability lowering barriers for entry in ad tech.

At smrtr, we believe in the value of data portability and interoperability not just as a way to give businesses and consumers more control over how data is shared, but also as a way for marketers to find new audiences. We combine aggregated data from a variety of industries to find new insights and help marketers target the right customers with their campaigns.

By Paul Argus, CMO at smrtr