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Remedy design in digital
abuse cases: Getting
the Demand-side right
Amelia Fletcher
CCP and Norwich Business School, UEA
D...
What do we know?
 Consumers’ choices can be strongly influenced by choice
architecture.
 Eg Framing bias, salience bias,...
Implications for remedy design
 So choice architecture matters. But it can be hard to get it right.
 Google Shopping pro...
Implications for remedy design 2
 Some specific issues related to opening up
the Shopping box.
 Bidding-based competitio...
Implications for remedy design 3
 What do we learn?
 It can be hard to improve competition without harming consumer expe...
Thank you
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Abuse of Dominance in Digital Markets – Amelia Fletcher – December 2020 OECD discussion

This presentation by Amelia Fletcher CBE (Professor of Competition Policy, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia) was prepared for the discussion on “Abuse of Dominance in Digital Markets” held at the 19th OECD Global Forum on Competition on 8 December 2020. More papers and presentations on the topic can be found at http://oe.cd/dmkt.

This presentation was uploaded with the author’s consent.

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Abuse of Dominance in Digital Markets – Amelia Fletcher – December 2020 OECD discussion

  1. 1. Remedy design in digital abuse cases: Getting the Demand-side right Amelia Fletcher CCP and Norwich Business School, UEA Disclaimer: These are not necessarily the views of any organisation with which I am associated!
  2. 2. What do we know?  Consumers’ choices can be strongly influenced by choice architecture.  Eg Framing bias, salience bias, default bias  There is strong evidence on these biases generally  They can inherently weaken competition but can also be exploited strategically  Google Android (EC, 2018): Default bias.  Google Shopping (EC, 2017): Salience bias.  The choice architecture around privacy on Google and Facebook (CMA, 2020).  Similar issues for Amazon’s Buy Box and app stores?
  3. 3. Implications for remedy design  So choice architecture matters. But it can be hard to get it right.  Google Shopping provides a salutary example.  From September 2017, to resolve antitrust concerns, Google opened up its “shopping box” to rival choice comparison services. They were able to bid for space in the shopping unit.  In March 2019, Commission Vestager accepted that “It has taken time for the mechanism to show results”, but reflected positively on recent changes that should help, including a feature to allow users to toggle between the current window that shows links going directly to merchants, and a window that shows links to comparison sites.  By November 2019, she admitted that “The proposal does not seem to be doing the trick. We may see a show of rivals in the shopping box. We may see a pickup when it comes to clicks for merchants. But we still do not see much traffic for viable competitors when it comes to shopping comparison”.  Why is this all so hard, and what can be done?
  4. 4. Implications for remedy design 2  Some specific issues related to opening up the Shopping box.  Bidding-based competition for ‘default/salient’ positions can: (i) be exploitative; (ii) favour those who can gain market power from it; and (iii) favour vertically integrated services.  But also consumer biases remain strong:  Consumers likely to click on/near image, taking them to merchants.  If default shows links to merchants, few will ‘toggle’.  So, Google likely to remain first stop.
  5. 5. Implications for remedy design 3  What do we learn?  It can be hard to improve competition without harming consumer experience (consumers may well prefer a straight-through click to a merchant).  Remedies that are designed to improve consumer choices, with a view to driving more effective competition, need careful A/B testing and ongoing monitoring.  NB This is just one example, and is effectively turning DGComp into a regulator. There is also Google Shopping, could be Amazon Buy Box, Apple app stores, etc.  A reason why ex ante regulation may have advantages over antitrust.  Likely to see similar issues around data portability measures – a reason why wholesale data access may be a more powerful option where feasible.
  6. 6. Thank you

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