Online advertising in the UK

Report co-authored with Stephen Adshead

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) commissioned Plum Consulting to provide an independent analysis of the structure of the online advertising sector; the movement of data, content and money through the online advertising value chain; and potential harms that can arise from online advertising. This work feeds into the Cairncross Review into the sustainability of the UK press sector and the Government’s Digital Charter work programme to ensure the UK is the safest place to be online and the best place to start and grow a digital business.

The internet advertising industry has experienced rapid growth as online media consumption has increased and advertisers have allocated more budget to online. UK internet advertising expenditure increased from £3,508m in 2008 to £11,553m in 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 14%. Online advertising now accounts for over half of all UK advertising expenditure.

However, the size and growth of the sector has led to concerns about potential harms to consumers, firms and wider society that could arise as a result of the structure and operation of the sector. It has also led to concerns about the financial sustainability of high-quality journalism.

Plum’s recent report takes stock of the UK online ad market and draws implications for consumers, society and the economy.