More questions: Australia sets ad tech and platforms timelines

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The inquiry into advertising technology recommended by Australia's competition watchdog is finally underway, with a second, longer inquiry into digital platforms just announced.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the new 18-month ad-tech inquiry would focus on technologies facilitating the supply of online advertising to Australian consumers. "These technologies gather information about consumers and use it to target them with highly personalised advertising," he said.

The inquiry into the "opaque" media buying process was one of the stronger recommendations from the ACCC's 2017 platforms inquiry, which presented its 623-page report last July. Part of the government's response has been to commit $27 million over four years to establish and resource an ACCC digital platforms branch for these purposes.

Frydenberg said digital technologies would become "an increasingly important part of our economic and social landscape". Reforms would ensure right the balance and "position Australia as a leading digital economy".

A final report for the ad tech inquiry is due by August 31, 2021 with an interim report at the end of 2020. An issues paper next month will outline the inquiry's areas of focus. It 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.

The second inquiry - which maintains pressure on digital platforms - is set to report March 31, 2025, with six monthly interim reports starting September 30 this year.

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