At the recent Cannes Lions advertising event, industry leaders have been discussing how how they can tackle the dominance of Google and Facebook. AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong revealed the topic came up at just about every meeting between advertisers at the event, as concerns over market share increase.

It was one of two talking points to dominate the week-long festival: the other being how to address the continued growth of ad blocking technology.


Tech giants fear the ‘duopoly’

“It comes up with publishers, with advertising agencies, with marketers,” Armstrong said in an interview at the festival in Cannes. “There’s a fear of a duopoly overall.”

His remarks highlight concerns over the ‘walled garden’ strategies both Google and Facebook have adopted in recent years. It’s an approach that makes it increasingly difficult for users to leave the two platforms as they go about their online activities.

This follows the introduction of Facebook Instant Articles and Google’s AMP project – both of which load content within their respective applications. The technologies mean users no longer need to visit a publisher’s website to view their content. More importantly, it keeps users locked into Facebook or Google so they can continue to collect data and target users with ads.

Facebook also recently announced it would serve ads on third-party sites in a similar vein to Google’s AdSense and AdWords platforms.


AOL seeking merger to take on the duopoly

AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong, who is a former Google sales vice-president, is now reportedly seeking a merger with Yahoo to take on the duopoly. His vision is to establish the industry’s top mobile media company by 2020 – one that reaches two billion consumers.

“Today that sounds like a really big number,” Armstrong told The Australian at Cannes Lions.

“I think when you look forward four or five years, that’s probably going to be an average size number for the large digital platforms in the world. Any of the deals you hear us talking about or doing is part of a laser focus on helping us get to that level.”

Armstrong is confident marketers and brands are screaming out for more competition in the digital ad scene, too.

“I think from a market standpoint, the marketers are asking, and the agencies and publishers are asking, for more comp­etition. They’re looking for a third, fourth, fifth platform to emerge and one of the things that they want us to do is invest in that area heavily,” he said.