On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the American Antitrust Institute will host the competition roundtable “How Should Technology Change the Antitrust Approach to Markets?” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The roundtable will take up the question of how the dimensions of markets evolve with technological change and how antitrust enforcement accounts for this evolution in defining relevant markets – an often controversial issue in antitrust investigations.
The half-day event will feature two panels and a roundtable discussion that bring together experts in enforcement, business, academia, and advocacy. The first panel will assess the major impacts of technology on the dimensions of markets. This includes how technology influences how consumers make decisions; the role of technology in changing the scope of markets over time; digital ecosystems of markets that are linked together by leveraging consumer data, and multi-sided markets. The second panel will consider the practical implications of these developments for antitrust enforcement. It will explore how antitrust approaches to market definition should change in light of technological advances, versus where current approaches remain appropriate; instances where technological change elevates the role of direct evidence of evaluating anticompetitive effects; and where merger retrospectives support or contradict past market definitions in evolving markets.
Panel 1: Assessing The Major Impacts Of Technology On The Dimensions of Markets
The first panel will identify major areas where technology has influenced the dimensions of markets. These include the important role of consumer decision-making and how consumer preferences can be dynamically shaped through artificial intelligence and machine learning, particularly in digital markets. Panelists will also consider the role of technology in shaping the quality, control, and distribution of information available to market actors, which can create new relevant markets. The advent of the internet and interconnectivity has upended traditional assumptions about the product and geographic boundaries of markets. Panelists will frame scenarios where relevant markets are now more broadly defined relative to past antitrust cases. This includes travel agents, real estate intermediaries, advertising, and terrestrial radio where consumers often switch between distribution channels, including bricks and mortar and digital sellers. Panelists will also consider the role of consumer data in linking together sets of products and services in digital ecosystems and when these should be considered a single, or separate markets.
Panel 2: Framing the Antitrust Responses to Technology-Driven Changes in Markets
The second panel will assess the practical implications of technology-driven changes in markets for antitrust enforcement. Panelists will consider how the current set of economic tools for defining relevant markets, such as critical loss analysis and use of bidding data, do or do not apply. They will consider scenarios where technological advance makes quality (e.g., privacy) the more important metric for evaluating the likelihood of anticompetitive harm in antitrust markets. The panel will also pose questions relating to theories of harm. This includes, for example, what is required to show harm in cases involving multi-sided markets such as credit cards and online platforms. Other examples include pricing and conduct norms that, while once benign, are now harmful because technology has expanded markets or provided consumers with tools to make more informed decisions. Finally, panelists will explore how acquisitions of smaller rivals may enhance the ability to leverage market power across multiple markets in an ecosystem, particularly those involving digital technology.
National Press Club Holeman Lounge
529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045
Media Policy at AAI Roundtables:
Members of the media are present at most AAI roundtables. Speakers and participants should be aware that the media are on background during AAI events. If a member of the media wishes to quote or cite from the live proceedings of AAI events, they are asked to contact specific sources for permission.
AAI will apply for CLE credit hours for this event.