Tuesday 23 February 2021 7:50 pm

Facebook and Google duopoly is ‘too powerful’ says CMA boss

Facebook and Google’s duopoly is too powerful, and the pair have too great a share of the UK online advertising space, CMA boss Andrea Coscelli has said.

Speaking to the BBC, Coscelli said he would like to see regulatory changes to deal with their market dominance, but stopped short of saying the giants should be broken up.

“We think it would be good if we got to a situation where others had a bigger share of the market,” he said.

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“When companies have too much economic power, that creates a number of distortions, first for competitors, secondly for consumers, and at some level potentially in terms of the political process as well, in some cases.

“We, in general terms, like to see markets more competitive, with more players, with more diversity of players, because we think that delivers better outcomes.”

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Google and Facebook have an 80 per cent share of the UK’s £14bn digital advertising market, which is “not an ideal situation,” said Coscelli.

Google holds about 90 per cent of the UK’s £7.3bn search advertising market, and Facebook has more than a 50 per cent share of the £5.5bn display advertising market.

“Providing a free service, funded by advertising that is relevant and useful, gives millions of people and businesses in the UK the opportunity to connect and share,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“Advertisers can and do freely move their spending between TV, radio, print, outdoor and online. And in online advertising itself we face significant competition from the likes of Google, Apple, Snap, Twitter and Amazon, as well as new entrants like Tiktok, which keeps us on our toes.”

Neither Facebook nor Google are strangers to action from the competition regulator.

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In December, the CMA set out a new pro-competition regime for digital markets that means technology companies with so-called strategic market status – like Google and Facebook – will be legally bound by a code of conduct overseen by a Digital Markets Unit, which will govern how they do business and treat their users.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “Providing a free service, funded by advertising that is relevant and useful, gives millions of people and businesses in the UK the opportunity to connect and share.

“Advertisers can and do freely move their spending between TV, radio, print, outdoor and online. And in online advertising itself we face significant competition from the likes of Google, Apple, Snap, Twitter and Amazon, as well as new entrants like TikTok, which keeps us on our toes.”

The news comes as Facebook launched a new shopping tool in the UK today.

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