Online platforms have assumed a central role in the way people communicate with each other, transact commerce, and obtain news and other information. Individuals can retrieve relevant and useful information in seconds, make personal and professional connections, and access (at no financial cost to themselves) a range of valuable goods and services that otherwise would be costly or difficult to find. Companies and other organizations can find customers and other audiences that once remained elusive. Key to achieving these benefits is the ability of digital platforms to use algorithms to recommend particular content to a particular user based on that content’s likely relevance to that user – a process known as targeting.
The economic benefits of targeted content extend far beyond the revenues the platforms themselves generate from digital advertising. The targeting of search results, advertising, and other content to users fuels the overall digital economy and generates massive benefits for all consumers of information, goods, and services and for the firms that use the platforms to reach them.
In this brief, we present some economic considerations that the amici urge the Court to consider in its deliberations. Any decision in this case that could change the structure of the digital economy must consider the decision’s full economic consequences, including the effects on other firms and on consumer welfare resulting from online platforms’ targeting of relevant content to their users.