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Competition Landscaping in AdTech Industry: Why India May Require a ‘Unified’ Approach



The rapid ascent of Big Tech conglomerates has spurred concerns regarding economic concentration, prompting global competition authorities to scrutinize their business practices. Among the sub-issues drawing attention is the landscape of competition within the Advertisement Technology (AdTech) industry, a critical component of the digital marketing ecosystem.

Key stakeholders in the AdTech sector include publishers, advertisers, supply-side platforms (SSPs), demand-side platforms (DSPs), intermediaries, and end-users. This industry’s significance lies in its role in facilitating targeted advertising through the collection and processing of vast amounts of user data by Big Tech firms. However, concerns have arisen regarding data privacy, conflicts of interest, and opaque decision-making processes.

Countries like Australia, France, and the UK have conducted investigations into AdTech practices, highlighting issues such as Google’s overwhelming dominance across the supply chain, lack of transparency in pricing, and potential anticompetitive behavior. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is currently examining similar concerns raised by informants, including allegations against Google regarding zero-click searches and unfair terms of service.

Given the complexity of the AdTech industry and the need for timely action, there is a case for a unified global approach to address antitrust concerns. India, with its recent legislative reforms and enhanced regulatory capabilities, is poised to play a significant role in this regard. By leveraging existing cooperation agreements with mature regulators and adopting a coordinated response, the CCI can ensure fair competition while conserving resources and facilitating market corrections.

As India navigates its digital transformation, a unified approach to AdTech regulation aligns with principles of economic efficiency and fair market practices. By embracing global cooperation and coordination, the CCI can contribute to a level playing field in the digital economy, fostering innovation and consumer welfare.

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