On 3 May 2018, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) published 57 submissions to its inquiry into digital platforms. As discussed in our earlier article on the inquiry, the public inquiry is investigating the impact of digital platforms on competition in the media and advertising services market. The ACCC also announced a number of public forums in May and August to discuss the impact of digital platforms for various stakeholders.

Of the submissions, ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, said “We appreciate the effort organisations and consumers have put into the many thoughtful and helpful submissions we received. This feedback from news organisations, digital platforms, academics, advertisers, news consumers and social media users will help inform the ACCC as we conduct our inquiry”.

Submissions were made by a range of media organisations, as well as associations from across the advertising and media spectrum.

Many of the submissions focused on the market position of Google and Facebook. Both Google and Facebook made their own submissions.

On 15 May the ACCC also announced its intention to host public forums in May and August to discuss the impacts of digital platforms for consumers, advertisers (including small businesses), journalists and media organisations.

The consumer forum is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 29 May 2018 and is open to members of the public who wish to share their experiences about using digital platforms and specifically, about:

  • digital platforms used by consumers and whether they feel they have choice in terms of the platforms available, particularly with respect to search engines and social media;
  • use of digital platforms to access news content, including the impact of news personalisation and curation on the range of views and opinions available to consumers;
  • business models that support news production and the willingness of consumers to pay for news content versus ‘free’ (advertising-funded) news content;
  • terms and conditions and privacy policies used by digital platforms and the extent to which consumers read and understand these terms and policies; and
  • consumer understanding of the types of personal data that digital platforms collect and how this information is used.

The advertiser forum is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 30 May 2018 and is open to businesses, including small businesses, that advertise on digital platforms.

The ACCC has indicated it is keen to hear from advertisers about:

  • digital advertising in Australia including what are the ‘must have’ platforms and why these platforms are used;
  • advertising terms and conditions including the terms and conditions used in contracts and how the cost of digital advertising has changed;
  • advertising impacts including how advertising on digital platforms is measured and if digital platform advertising represents value for money; and
  • technology issues including how the digital advertising supply chain works and the effectiveness of competition.

A forum for journalists will be held in August.