Understanding and making the most of the Digital Markets Act (DMA): Changes, Threats and Opportunities

Imagine a digital market where your shop can compete on equal footing with the market giants. That’s where the Digital Markets Act (DMA) steps in. By preventing large platforms, which have a disproportionate influence on the digital market, from imposing unfair conditions, the DMA ensures that your shop has a fair chance to shine. 

Now who are these so-called gatekeepers and why was the 6th of March such an important milestone in the e-commerce realm? Will it bring the long-anticipated visibility boost to comparison platforms and shops? This and more you will find out here. Discover together with us the changes, threats and opportunities the DMA will bring:

 

What is the DMA and what is it for?

The Digital Markets Act is a law introduced by the European Union to promote a fair and more competitive digital sector across the single market. The DMA identifies and targets “gatekeepers” who have strong control over one or more parts of the digital market. These “gatekeeper” companies had until a certain deadline to comply with the DMA. What exactly “compliant” means has different interpretations depending on who you ask. Further below we will present a few different examples of what Google had been testing in the past weeks. This might still be very different from what the European Commission in the end will strive to enforce. You can read the dos and don’ts gatekeepers must comply with here.

 

When did the DMA come into effect?

As with all legislation in the EU, there are steps which have been taken to introduce the DMA to the market. The regulation first entered force on 1st of November 2022 and became applicable in May 2023. After this, the gatekeepers had until the 6th of March 2024 to comply with the DMA. 


What is and who are “the gatekeepers”?

Gatekeepers are large online platforms that have a strong economic position, a significant impact on the internal market and are active across multiple EU countries. They must be in a position where they link a large user base to a large number of businesses and have an entrenched position in the market.

So far six companies have been identified as gatekeepers:

      • Alphabet (Google)

      • Amazon

      • Apple

      • ByteDance (TikTok)

      • Meta (Facebook)

      • Microsoft 
     

    What will the consequences be for not complying with the DMA?

    If gatekeepers fail to implement compliant regulatory actions, they are faced with severe consequences. According to the European Commission these would be: “Fines of up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover, or up to 20% in the event of repeated infringements.” In the most severe instances of systematic infringement, the Commission can even force the selling of parts of the offending company.


    What changes can be expected?

    As the deadline drew closer we observed intense testing by Google on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Some of these tests show extreme visibility changes and even new products. Here are some examples of different versions of the search result pages in 2024 before the deadline of 6th of March. This will be a long but picture heavy section!

     

    Product sites -page:

        • Promotes comparison sites

        • Is not a default filter 

        • Results in low user engagement

       

      New CSS Widget on the SERP for Product sites:

          • Similar idea as in the first example but as a separate widget instead of a filter

          • Is visible by default (usually below the fold)

          • Results in medium user engagement

         

        Products -page:

          • Is visible by default at the top of the viewport

          • Mixes shops, comparison sites and GS

          • Results in high user engagement

         

        Integrated Google Shopping box w/o Comparison sites:

          • Separates or includes product sites with GS

          • Is visible by default at the top of the viewport

          • Results in high user engagement

         

        Removing Google Shopping box or adjusting it: