The mobile space is full of acronyms: from ATT to IDFA to CPI to UA, it’s enough to make your head spin. But it’s time to make mental space for two new acronyms that will be important to many apps in the future: DMA and DSA.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) are a pair of interacting draft laws from the European Commission. While the DMA targets the lack of competition in digital markets, the DSA is takes on transparency and consumer protection – words mobile marketers have become intimately familiar with. Let’s explore these new laws and how they may impact mobile app publishers.
The Digital Markets Act
Introduced by the European Commission (EC) in 2021, the DMA aims to address what the commission sees as a lack of fair competition in digital markets. The DMA will only affect “gatekeepers” – primarily defined as platforms with at least 45 million monthly active users. The goal of the DMA will be to better enable competition by making it easier for new platforms to enter the market. It will do so by enacting provisions such as prohibited practices that harm competition as well as practices that can problematic for competition and require further examination. This will be enforced at the EU-level and can involve fines of up to 10% of global turnover, and even structural separation in case of systematic non-compliance.
The Digital Services Act
Also introduced in 2021 by the EC, the DSA applies to applies to all intermediaries (such as conduit providers, caching providers, hosting providers) and will impose additional requirements on those services used by more than 10% of EU consumers. The act addresses issues of liability rules, transparency reporting obligations, and due diligence obligations among these intermediaries. National regulators – aided by the newly proposed European Board for Digital Services (EBDS) – will be responsible for enforcement and can impose fines of up to 6% of global turnover. In very serious cases of infraction, they can also restrict access to platforms.
DMA and DSA: What it all means for mobile
The Brookings Institute calls this combination of laws “a well-balanced approach that imposes additional rules where the potential for harm to competition and consumers is highest.” But what does this all mean in practical terms for mobile publishers and marketers?
The DMA demands companies like Google, Meta, and Apple must obtain “explicit consent” to target ads based on personal data. Apple may be a bit ahead of the game on this one, but this could have far-reaching consequences for mobile marketers already limited in their tracking abilities on iOS.
While there are other regulations that could impact these giants – such as required interoperability between platforms like Apple’s iMessage and Meta’s WhatsApp or mandates that large platforms let users select a browser, search engine and even the voice assistant of their choice – it also could mean new opportunities for savvy developers who figure out how to bring these together, or provide alternatives.
The DSA, on the otherhand, says that what is considered illegal speech in Europe should also be considered illegal speech online, in an attempt to hold platforms more accountable for what is said on their networks. (A German lawsuit, however, could impact this.) In the meantime, Axios lists some of the more immediate impacts:
- Apple musy let EU users to make purchases outside of its official App Store via third-party app stores – a regulation that stands to open new opportunities for app creators.
- Tech giants won’t be allowed to give their own products, apps, or services preferential treatment within the EU, which could also make it easier for new apps to gain traction.
- Making things a bit more difficult, however, is a regulation that requires companies to get consumer consent before moving the personal data of EU citizens around.
These changes are bound to shake up the European app market and have reverbarations across the globe. App marketers have spent the past couple of years relearning how to acquire users on iOS and will need to continue to be flexible as the DMA and DSA impact the data they can use to find users.