Australia’s competition watchdog called for additional authority to curb Google’s power in online advertising, which it claimed harms publishers, advertisers and consumers by pushing up prices.

In a report on the advertising technology sector, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) identified systemic concerns and argued enforcement options under current laws are insufficient to address them.

ACCC chair Rod Sims explained in a statement it is “concerned that the lack of competition has likely led to higher ad tech fees”.

“An inefficient ad tech industry means higher costs for both publishers and advertisers, which is likely to reduce the quality or quantity of online content and ultimately results in consumers paying more for advertised goods.”

An inquiry found Google holds a dominant position in key parts of the advertising technology supply chain, with the authority estimating more than 90 per cent of advert impressions passed through at least one of the company’s services in 2020.

In its report, the ACCC argued Google’s use of its vertically-integrated position led to a less competitive industry.

Sims stated the authority it is considering specific allegations against Google under existing competition laws, but recommended new steps to “manage conflicts of interest, prevent anti-competitive self-preferencing and ensure rival ad tech providers can compete on their merits”.

He added it is in close contact with international counterparts introducing similar rules.

Australia passed a law earlier this year requiring Google and Facebook to agree licensing deals with local media companies when using their content to ensure news media businesses are fairly remunerated.