It is safe to say that the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) has the potential to have a significant impact on the main protagonists, the so-called ‘Gatekeepers,’ such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft.
It’s hard to make firm predictions on all the Act’s outcomes, at least not until we see how it is going to be enforced by the European Court. But as the dust begins to settle, it is evident that the effects of the Act are going to be felt by more than just the US tech giants.
For instance, although the law will hopefully grow consumers' trust in digital advertising, it does not promise to be all positive. As the Gatekeepers will now need to gain consumer consent across each individual part of their platforms, the dreaded consent pop-ups are set to become even more prevalent……and annoying.
While many marketers outside the EU may think that the DMA will not affect them, that is not the case, particularly for marketers that are utilizing the Gatekeeper platforms to reach consumers. Regulators & the technology platforms across the world will be gauging and reacting to the effects of the DMA to understand how all digital advertising will operate globally.
Here are a few areas where we feel the DMA will impact marketers:
The good news is that we should see fairer and greater competition across the AdTech marketplace, and marketers are going to get a greater choice of solutions. The constraints the DMA places on the Gatekeepers’ monopolistic behaviors and ‘killer acquisitions’ will allow smaller competitors to be nurtured and become sustainable.
Transparency into ‘Pricing Algorithms’
Advertisers and publishers are promised access to price setting conditions and algorithms, specifically for advertising related services provided by gatekeepers. It remains to be seen how this will be implemented and ultimately if the information will be meaningful, but pricing transparency cannot be a bad thing for companies dependent on gatekeeper services. Will sunlight put downward pressure on pricing and intermediation?.
Loss of Signals
The DMA restricts the intra-company sharing of data within the big tech platforms. For example, as consumers surf across the Google Platform, from Chrome to Google Maps to Search to YouTube to Android to Chromebook, they will need to give unique consent at every step.
Inevitably, the Gatekeepers are going to lose a good chunk of their valuable cross-service signals, and this restriction is going to squeeze their ability to build accurate targeting and attribution models for marketers. In the past, marketers have relied on the data gathered across these properties.
Although deterministic signals will not disappear completely, it is likely that most marketers will need to rely on a hybrid solution in the future. They are going to have to create new probabilistic modeling strategies to ascertain attribution to campaigns and predict where their advertising budgets should be spent.
Better Data for Attribution
On the flip side, the DMA requires Gatekeepers provide access to direct measurement data to marketers, rather than accept selective aggregated data from platforms. As marketers get to access more marketing and performance data, they are going to have to select new platforms and strategies to process this data. Further, independent companies that currently provide attribution services may find significant new opportunities with marketers spending on Gatekeeper platforms. There may be a race to obtain ‘certification’ across these platforms.
Growing Importance of First Party Strategies
We’ve already seen the effect the loss of certain advertising capabilities has had on a smaller scale with recent policy changes enacted by Facebook and Apple. With the looming Google cookie apocalypse and further signal loss, most marketers will already appreciate the importance of first-party data, and the urgency around developing their strategies around it. The increased signal loss (detailed above) driven by the DMA accelerates this need.
With more potential technology partners, tricky algorithms and modeling options, marketers will have to learn how to deal with a potentially more complex martech stack, making an already hard job even more complicated.
This closer engagement with data science is obviously going to have an effect on the skill sets necessary for marketers. The average marketer might not need to be an expert, but they are going to need to be comfortable with the science to make the right decisions.
Conclusion - Time to see the Bigger Picture
Marketers have reacted to recent signal loss from Facebook and Apple by introducing workarounds and quick fixes rather than taking a holistic look at how a world with fewer signals will ultimately play out.
The scale of the implications of the DMA on further signal restrictions is going to mean that marketers need to build solutions that last the test of these changing times. Marketers need to Investigate and introduce solutions that have a level of longevity and ability to operate in the future.