In its 2020 market study on online platforms and digital advertising, the Competition and Markets Authority recommended that the largest online platforms be required to give consumers a choice over whether they are shown targeted adverts and their personal data is collected for that purpose. Such a measure has the potential to both improve competition, since the collection of excessive consumer data gives an unfair competitive advantage, and reduce harm by giving consumers more choice.
To investigate how much benefit such an intervention would bring to consumers, Which?, alongside Accent and PJM Economics, conducted research to estimate the value that users of Google and Facebook would place on the ability to have greater control over data that is used for targeted advertising. The research used a stated preference methodology in which 4,000 Facebook and Google users were given a hypothetical choice in which there was a financial incentive to choose to receive targeted adverts and share their data.
Which? believes this evidence increases the imperative for the government to follow through with its intention to legislate for a new pro-competition regime for digital markets and for the Digital Markets Unit to be empowered to introduce remedies that promote competition, including giving consumers greater control over their personal data.