Staff Reporters
Feb 17, 2020

Australia launches probe into adtech supply chain

This investigation will further assess the transparency of digital platforms.

Australia launches probe into adtech supply chain

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) probe into the adtech supply chain has kicked off. The country's treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has directed the regulator to start an 18-month inquiry, along with another five-year inquiry, that will continue to scrutinise the activities of digital platforms such as Facebook and Google.

“The adtech inquiry will focus on technologies facilitating the supply of online advertising to Australian consumers," Frydenberg said in a statement about the ACCC plan. “Digital technologies are going to be an increasingly important part of our economic and social landscape. Our reforms will ensure we get the balance right and position Australia as a leading digital economy.”


The inquiry into digital platforms, to run from 2020 to 2025, is much lengthier than an earlier ACCC investigation which began in 2017 and culminated in a 623-page report released last July.

The final report for the initial 18-month phase of the new adtech inquiry is expected to be delivered by August 31, 2021, with an interim report due on December 31 this year. As part of the process, an issues paper to be published next month will detail the inquiry’s areas of focus.

However, there are already several details out on in the open. This probe will consider the competitiveness and efficiency of the supply chain, concentration of power, auction and bidding processes, impact of mergers and acquisitions, suppliers’ behaviour and corporate structures, contractual relationships between suppliers and customers, and the distribution of expenditure between publishers, digital ad tech service providers and advertising agencies.

For the second part of the investigation, ACCC will closely examine the functioning of search engines, social media platforms, online private messaging services, digital content aggregators, media referral services, and electronic marketplaces. This study will also capture how these firms manage confidential user data.

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