The internet advertising market is concentrated in a few hands. In two, specifically: those of Google and Facebook. Both companies account for 70% of the income generated by this business in Spain in 2019. This is highlighted by the first report in history on this sector, prepared for more than two years and published now by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC).
The harshness of these data leaves no room for doubt even for the CNMC, which speaks of problems for competition between companies, and a lack of transparency, for citizens. They are not trivial questions either for corporations or for the millions of users who use these platforms daily. In the case of concentration, because it does not tend to decrease, “quite the contrary,” according to Joaquín López, Director of Competition Promotion of the CNMC. The absence of a transparent process reinforces the power of these platforms and intermediaries that have more information than the advertising buyers.
The multiple advertising supports of all types of platforms, web, social media profiles and any other online format billed the year before the pandemic more than 3.45 billion euros. Of these, more than 2,400 million are distributed between the most used search engine in the world and one of the social networks with the most active profiles.
The one that enters the most
The Google’s case is the most relevant. It is the company that enters the most and the one with the largest market share in internet advertising: it absorbed 1.4 billion of the 1.5 billion generated by advertising on search engines. On the other hand, display advertising (videos, banners, network formats, native) generated 1,950 million, of which Facebook (including Instagram) captured more than 700 million.
Within the ‘display’, the most relevant part and which is growing the most are the 1,150 million generated by platforms with global implantation such as its own Facebook, Amazon or YouTube (owned by Google), who sell their own advertising inventory. The remaining 800 million constitute the ‘open display’, where publishers of different sizes and national audiences (digital newspapers, television and internet radio) negotiate their advertising space with advertisers or agencies through intermediaries (purchase and sale platforms ). Also in this case Google reaches quotas of up to 70%. The report supports the position that many media have held for years: it is clear that the free model when offering news does not prevent the creation of a huge parallel business with dominance positions in several markets
From Competition they trust the development of the digital markets bill that is being drafted at the European level so that a supranational framework is created to monitor these markets and provide adapted tools. But they also admit that the investigations in this matter are “very complex” and recalled that there are ongoing investigations in different areas on online advertising. In fact, Cedar (Spanish Center for Reprographic Rights) reported Google to the CNMC in June for abuse of a dominant position in the market for news aggregation and digital advertising.
The CNMC it follows “very attentive” business operations and the acquisition of competitors in other markets. It also points out that it is focused on examining the algorithms to prevent them from making discrimination and does not rule out a segregation of the data that a company has after an investigation. The body is clear: “Who has data, has power.” And it considers that the most efficient thing would be for the actions to be carried out by the “supranational authorities.”
Meanwhile, the market remains expectant before a digital ad domain model which implies a high risk of increased costs for companies and, therefore, for the consumer.