Enforcement of Competition Law in the Online Advertising Industry

The Turkish Competition Board Has Launched an Online Advertising Sector Inquiry.

The Turkish Competition Authority (“the Authority”) published an announcement on its official website on 06 March 2021 informing the public of the Turkish Competition Board’s (″the Board″) decision dated 21 January 2021 to launch an inquiry into the online advertising sector to address and develop solutions for behavioral and structural competition concerns. You can see the announcement here. (Available in Turkish only)

The announcement briefly presents the Board’s concerns with respect to competition in the online advertising sector. The Board highlights the sector’s complex supply chain involving several suppliers who provide various services, and defines the industry as a two-sided market. The Board emphasizes that the market power enjoyed by a small number of players in the online advertising sector combined with data size and product portfolio leads to anti-competitive effects and concerns.

The inquiry aims to examine the suitability of existing competition law instruments for the establishment of effective competition in the online advertising sector. The Board will also consider potential new competition law instruments to ensure that effective competition is maintained in the industry.

During the inquiry, the Board plans to arrange meetings with decision-makers, undertakings, and unions in the online advertising sector. The Board will organize sectoral workshops with stakeholders to detect market failures and competitive concerns and to formulate solutions where necessary. 

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their opinions and advice for the online advertising sector inquiry in writing to the Authority using the reklamcilik@rekabet.gov.tr e-mail address before 21 June 2021. Stakeholders seeking confidentiality should submit a confidentiality request with their opinions.

The Board’s Latest Violation Decision in Relation to the Online Advertising Sector

On 12 November 2020, the Board ruled that Google had violated Article 6 of the Protection of Competition Law No: 4054.  The Law prohibits the abuse of a dominant position to hinder the activities of undertakings in the content services market, whose contents organically appear in search results, through intensively placing text ads at the top of general search engine results without specifying their ad nature. You can reach the decision here. (Available in Turkish only)

The Board imposed an administrative fine amounting to TRY 196,708,054.78 and obliged Google to comply with behavioral remedies in order to end the violation and enhance effective competition. The behavioral remedies are as follows: (i) implementing measures within six months to supply text ad services in a quality and scale or with a policy in which the organic search results are not excluded and informing the Authority of these measures before the end of the six month period and (ii) submitting annual reports for a period of five years for compliance.