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The Digital Markets Act (DMA) makes sure that large online platforms behave fairly, and don’t act as “gatekeepers” in digital markets. The DMA is a piece of legislation designed to balance platform regulations in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) to promote openness and fairness in digital markets.

The legislation is coming into effect soon and imposing new regulations that will make large companies like Google and others change the way their products and services work.

Therefore, 2024 sets a new mark for change in how we adapt and create our business strategies.

In this article, we will dive deeper into showing you how you can adapt and make sure your business complies with the DMA.

The law of the European Commission has classified six companies as “gatekeepers.” In the future, the list may become larger, but as of now, here is the current list:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • ByteDance
  • Meta
  • Alphabet

All of these companies that fail to remain compliant with the DMA will face penalties. Moreover, third-party companies that use gatekeeper platforms need to also comply with regulations, or they’ll be banned from using the platforms overall.

Let’s not forget that the DMA classifies gatekeepers as companies that have an annual market capitalization of 75 billion Euros and more, and those that provide services like search engines, social media, browsers, or even have at least 10,000 annual business users.

How the DMA is eliminating unfair competition

Gatekeepers like Google, Amazon, and others, have built monopolies in the past 20 years. Even though many know Google as a search engine, in 2004, it entered the shopping market with a product that was first known as “Froogle,” which was renamed to “Google Product Search” in 2008 and is now known as “Google Shopping” since 2013.

Since 2008, Google has changed its strategy and pushed its comparison shopping service with its goal of dominating the internet. The European Commission started to realize that Google destroyed competitors by taking advantage of them in two ways:

  • Google ranked its shopping service on top of search results in all cases 
  • Google pushed down competitors in its own search results 

This was a problem because Google’s own shopping service wasn’t following the same rules as everyone else, allowing rival shopping services to become much less visible than the rest. Even more, Google started to receive many complaints from larger tech companies like Microsoft and TripAdvisor.

Strategy shifts of big tech companies and how they impact SEO rankings for less competitive companies

Considering the DMA’s regulations, the list of requirements for larger tech companies include:

  • Legal obligations against self-preferencing techniques that are used by the platform for promoting their own product and services
  • Prohibitions on a collection of data combinations from two different services that are owned by the same company (Facebook and Instagram are good examples)
  • Protection of business users of platforms that include both advertisers and publishers

These obligations will help prevent big tech companies from making changes to dominate the market and promote unfair competition.

How the DMA is benefiting the UK/EU and why it’s exclusive to Europe

Considering the changes the DMA has implemented against gatekeepers, this means that Google can’t promote any favoritism for its own product and brand, the same goes for Amazon, and Facebook can’t use the same data from its other partners like Instagram.

This innovation made by the DMA influences important metrics like click-through rates (CTR), the way clicks and positioning is made, and the way organic traffic is built up. These metrics are important for all marketing agencies that saw unfair competition from Google in the past. Many companies that saw unfair competition will start to see some light, this goes for travel industries, e-commerce, hotels, and more.

6 Steps to follow for complying with the DMA when adapting your business strategy

March is only a few weeks away, and the DMA is imposing new regulations for gatekeepers. As a third-party company, it’s important for you to also remain compliant so you can continue to use these gatekeeper platforms even after March 2024.

1. Obtain user consent

The DMA has highlighted the importance of website owners in treating consent management with a higher level of seriousness since gatekeepers can’t track end users for advertising reasons without receiving user consent.

This applies to all of your advertising and analytics platforms like Facebook and Google that are now enforced to obtain user consent. Users need to be given the freedom to change consent preferences or even withdraw them when required. All companies need to show proof of consent in case of regulatory audit.

2. Google Analytics and following Google’s new CMP requirements

Is Google Analytics GDPR compliant? We mentioned that the DMA and GDPR have fairly similar implications.

Google Analytics is great for understanding web performance, user behavior, and traffic patterns. However, its compliance with the GDPR has been a long subject of concern and this becomes somewhat problematic for businesses using the platform. Some EU countries claim that Google Analytics has some privacy compliance issues.

By default, Google Analytics is claimed non-compliant with the GDPR since it has many red flags from several EU countries like Austria, France, Denmark, and Italy. This all started when the European Parliament used Google Analytics on its COVID testing sites and found out that there was insufficient data protection.

However, in response to this ongoing issue, Google has recently updated its policies, requiring all of its publishers to use a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP), which came into play on January 16, 2024. 

All publishers that fail to use a Google-certified CMP when directing ad requests to Google for the European Economic Area (EEA), and the United Kingdom (UK) won’t be able to use personalized and non-personalized ads.

3. Hire an SEO agency to help you remain compliant with the DMA’s new regulations

All companies want to grow, they all want to have more users, revenue, and market share.

With the new set of regulations, millions of Google clicks will now go to websites and advertisers organically, improving important data metrics such as CTR, clicks, impressions, and search engine rankings. Companies that saw Google invading their market will now have much more opportunities.

Google has responded to this and is now rolling out new search features for the UK and the EUto comply with the DMA. The notable changes include: 

  • Rich Results Carousel: Google is rolling out a new search feature that displays carousel-style rich results for queries that are related to local services, shopping, and travel. The carousel results will depend on whether the web pages have the appropriate structured data markup. Without these markups, these pages will only show standard text search results. Google is still continuing to test the carousel for shopping queries in the UK, Czech Republic, Germany, and France.
  • Aggregator Units & refinement chips: Refinement chips are allowing researchers to cut down their results when searching for specific content. This applies to jobs sites, flight sites, product sites, and places sites.
  • Flight Queries: Shows airline website results as separate unit that allows users to book flights much more easily.

The new search features have been released by Google to make sure that users in the UK and EEA are complying with the new DMA legislation. The whole goal here to allow businesses to gain new opportunities in ranking higher and make sure that when users search on Google, the results are more user-centric.

While it may sometimes be difficult to keep up with all the regulations, SEO agencies are helping companies in the UK and EEA remain compliant with DMA.

Let’s not forget that these new regulations are going to be imposed in March of this year, so instead of having to do everything on your own, you can consider hiring a SEO agency UK or one in the EEA.

4. Obtain and store information under the DMA requirements

The DMA is pretty much similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and while you may be concerned about the conditions for valid consent, here is what you need to state to remain compliant: 

  • Informed: Why are you collecting the data, for how long, and who will you share it with?
  • Explicit: You need to include active acceptance, which is usually a tick box, or clicking link.
  • Documented: You have proof of consent in case of an audit.
  • In advance: No data can be collected before consent is obtained. Cookies need to be sent to your site before the user consents to them.
  • Opt-out options: This is an option to allow users to delete and manage their data recorded on your website.
  • Individual consent: Individual consent counts for individual purposes. They can’t be bundled with a set of activities.
  • Easy given options: This means that you should make it clear to users that they can either “accept”, or “deny”.

Both the GDPR and DMA require consent when using cookies and trackers on websites. This makes a consent management platform a necessary tool to use. However, many businesses in the EU, or those doing business within the EU don’t have a consent management platform (CMP) installed, or it is not installed properly.

This risks non-compliance with the Digital Markets Act, which puts you in trouble of being able to use gatekeeper advertising platforms like Google.

5. Implement a Consent Management Platform (CMP)

CMP implementation highly depends on the platform you are using, like any other tool and service. While installing your CMP, you need to make sure you are complying with the following rules:

  • Selecting a reliable and flexible CMP that is customizable based on your needs and easy to maintain by your staff members.
  • Implement your CMP according to your website integrations and setup.
  • Customize the CMP for your messaging, branding, and tracking technologies in use.
  • Activate the Google Consent mode signaling.
  • Make sure your CMP blocks third-party trackers.
  • Collec DMA-compliant consent from users.

CMP software is great since it can do most of the work for you, and remain compliant with the DMA at the same time.

6. Go through a compliance checklist

In order to be sure you are on the right path, it’s important to follow the DMA compliance checklist: 

  • Remaining consent: Use a Google-certified CMP to request user permission to store and collect information for ad purposes.
  • Use the basic consent mode: If you are using a Google platform, turn on the Google Consent Mode V2, which is a new feature used by Google that uses two more parameters for improving user privacy. This configuration will show if personal data is properly being transmitted based on user consent across all of Google’s products.
  • Use Google’s new Analytics tool: Google introduced a new Google Analytics4 (GA4) tool that has higher accuracy in remarketing, showing you conversion reports, and targeting your audience.
  • Don’t forget to update your tools: Always upgrade to the latest API/SDK versions for the platforms you are using.

The whole idea here is to make sure that your cookie banner aligns with valid consent with the GDPR.

The DMA has changed the way every business is using gatekeeper platforms

The European Union is always updating its laws and strives to adapt its legislation to make sure they are as responsive as possible to technological advances and ongoing trends in the digital landscape and economy.

While the DMA has been around for nearly one year, in March 2024, it will completely change the way gatekeepers advertise and even the way third-party companies use their platforms. If you are one of these companies that are using gatekeeper platforms and targeting ads in the UK, or EEA, it’s highly important to take action and adjust your business strategies to comply with upcoming regulations.

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