Antitrust Regulation Shakes up Digital Marketing Space

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Big legal developments have been brewing in the world of big tech lately. Spearheaded largely by efforts in Europe, search engine and social media companies have been subject to a slew of challenges and regulatory actions seeking to curtail their perceived monopolies on certain areas of the market. In the EU, for example, European regulators recently passed the landmark Digital Markets Act, aimed at clamping down on the amount of power wielded by digital platforms such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Meta. The new law prevents these platforms from pooling data sources without an explicit opt-in, puts a stop to self-preferencing, requires messaging apps to work across operating systems and generally forces adherence to fair business practices.


While the U.S. has trailed the EU in terms of big tech antitrust legislation, significant activity on both the state and federal level show an increased appetite for similar measures. For example, a recent bipartisan bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, looks to prevent companies like Amazon or Google from bundling or giving preference to their own products. The bill was publicly endorsed by the Department of Justice at the end of March.


At the state level, antitrust lawsuits led by several attorneys general in late 2020 alleged that Google searches favor the company’s own services over those of competitors such as Yelp and Angie’s List. The states claim these competitors have been harmed as a result, and that Google has been gaming the system for years. The day prior to this suit’s filing, several other states accused Google of false, deceptive or misleading acts through its Google Ads auction process.


With anti-big-tech sentiment on the rise, and U.S. momentum building for regulatory action, Google’s longtime dominance in the market may soon be a thing of the past. And while that may help some businesses, it could hurt others — particularly those that have invested significant time and money optimizing their SEO and PPC strategies to work within Google’s playbook. As seen with privacy legislation, EU regulatory action targeting the tech industry has historically foreshadowed what’s to come in the U.S. And judging by the current bipartisan appetite for change, regulatory measures are likely on the way. With this in mind, businesses and marketers should pay close attention to developments in this area — especially those with an established Google presence.


Online marketing and advertising can evolve quickly even in normal times — in terms of search algorithms, paid media, content formats, prescribed best practices and other ways. But the industry could be especially volatile with uncertainty over the future of big search and social companies looming. Kymera keeps abreast of developments and innovation in the digital marketing industry and helps businesses stay nimble and competitive in the face of rapid change, pivoting online strategies as needed. Contact us to learn how we can help keep your digital marketing efforts ahead of the curve.