Telcos’ joint advertising venture against Big Tech gets EU go-ahead

13 Feb 2023

Image: © doganmesut/

The telecoms providers said the upcoming platform is designed to give customers control over their data which is currently collected by ‘major, non-European players’.

The European Commission has approved a joint venture to create a new digital advertising platform and challenge current Big Tech dominance.

The new venture is being organised by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone, which claim to be working on a “privacy-by-design” platform that requires opt-in consent by the consumer to activate brand advertising.

The joint venture is set to launch in several EU countries following a successful trial in Germany, with further trials planned to develop the platform. The platform will first launch in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK according to the commission.

Orange said the four telecoms providers will have an equal stake in the new joint venture company, which will be based in Belgium and run by independent management. The platform is based on a project first launched by Vodafone to create a digital advertising service for Europe.

The platform creates a digital token for the user, which lets brands and publishers recognise users on websites in a near-anonymous state. The companies believe this will allow advertisers to group users and tailor content to them, while retaining privacy control for the user.

The move appears to be aimed at the current control Big Tech companies have over the digital advertising market, based on a statement released by Orange.

“The platform is specifically designed to offer consumers a step change in the control, transparency and protection of their data, which is currently collected, distributed and stored at scale by major, non-European players,” the statement said.

The commission conducted an investigation and said the joint venture will raise “no competition concerns” in the EEA.

The European Commission noted that there would still be alternative options available and that the joint venture will not restrict rival providers of digital identification services.

The investigation also found that the joint venture would not increase the risk of coordination between the four companies.

Certain Big Tech companies have been accused of anti-competitive practices in the adtech sector.

For example, the US government recently accused Google of monopolising key digital advertising technologies and engaging in various anti-competitive practices such as eliminating competition, forcing publishers and advertisers to use its products, and thwarting the ability to use competing products.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic