Mapping online advertising issues, and industry and regulatory initiatives

Report co-authored with Stephen Adshead

Online advertising is now the largest advertising medium by expenditure in the UK, exceeding TV and print. In 2019 it accounted for more than £13 billion expenditure in the UK and had a growth rate of 15% year on year.

As the online advertising market has grown, concerns around consumer- and advertiser-related issues have also increased.

This Plum research study for the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) examines the nature, scale and causes of harms arising from online advertising in three segments– paid social display, open display and influencer marketing. It then assesses the current initiatives available to deal with these issues, and identifies areas for improvement.

The study involved a rapid evidence review of existing research and literature, and a series of interviews with stakeholders across the value chain and key regulatory agencies to gather inputs and views to inform the analysis. The study report has been published by the DCMS.

This is a follow-up to our earlier work for the DCMS which explores the UK online ad market and the implications for consumers, society and the economy.