Experts available: ACCC inquiry into search engines

Experts available: ACCC inquiry into search engines

The ACCC yesterday called for submissions on search engine services, competition and quality ahead of its next inquiry report.

Professor Mark Sanderson, expert in search engines

“This is a timely examination of what consumers and business think of the search market in Australia. 

“While I think an organisation like Google will say that the quality of its results continues to improve and are better than they have ever been, I suspect that Australian consumers and businesses may take a different view.

“While the quality of results may well have improved on a search engine like Google, the volume of advertising on the search result page has also grown with adverts increasingly displayed in a way that makes them harder to distinguish from so-called organic results.

“It will be interesting to try to understand the inability of the generative AI solutions such as ChatGPT to start taking market share from the search engines. 

“Maybe that dominance will eventually come, but I have been surprised how little these generative solutions have taken market share away from the big search engines so far.”

Mark Sanderson is the Dean of Research and Innovation at the STEM College at RMIT University. He has researched the field of information retrieval for over 30 years.

Associate Professor Mark Gregory, expert in network engineering

“The ACCC has commenced an inquiry into search services and the level of competition in this market.

“With Google and Microsoft dominating the search service market, there are questions about how search services operate, particularly regarding the algorithms used to find a response to a search term or phrase.

“The search services generally provide responses that are sponsored or have a US tilt.

“Recently, Australia has moved to force television and electronic device vendors to provide access to Australian television and media services first.

“Should there be a move to force search service providers to focus on Australian content, information and services before paid content from foreign companies?

“It is possible that the ACCC could find that the search service providers are focused on the US market and there is a need for an Australian search service provider or regulations that force the large search service providers to more actively feature responses from Australian based content and offerings.”

Mark Gregory actively participates in public debate covering telecommunications, digital security and the Internet. He currently works as an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at RMIT University.


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19 March 2024


19 March 2024


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