LiveRamp Report Finds COVID-19, Brexit, and Walled Gardens As Threats to UK Ad Industry

LiveRamp (NYSE: RAMP), the leading data connectivity platform, today launches its new report ‘The New Internet,’ sharing insights from senior advertising and marketing leaders about the challenges that the advertising industry needs to navigate in the coming year.  

The research, conducted by LiveRamp and YouGov, found that over a third (36%) of the 506 advertising leaders cited the effects of COVID-19 on the economy as a long-term threat facing the advertising industry in 2020.  Other concerns were Brexit and the shifting regulatory landscape in the UK as a result of that (26%), as well as the advertising walled gardens (25%).

These findings show that while the COVID-19 crisis is still the biggest concern, advertising executives also foresee the year ahead to be further complicated by a changing regulatory landscape caused by Brexit and the increasing dominance of the tech giants in the online advertising space.

Over a third (35%) of senior British marketing leaders think greater transparency in the decisions made by world’s largest tech giants around online advertising on their platforms would improve the advertising industry, and a third (33%) think the ‘walled gardens’ agreeing to a list of principles that would make the industry fairer, and improve the industry.

The UK has one of the largest online advertising industries in the world, and in 2020 online advertising made up 62% of total advertising spend of £23.6 billion – a growth of 5% on the previous year. This report from LiveRamp, available to download here, has been launched to gauge the sentiment of the industry and to draw together voices from leading brands, publishers and industry bodies to consider how to overcome the challenges, future proof the UK online advertising landscape and to ensure that the internet remains open and fair to all.  The report includes contributions from prominent industry leaders such as Advertising Week, The Guardian, the IABUK and Accenture.

Nick Hewat, commercial director, Guardian News & Media, comments in the report that COVID-19 has not created new challenges but rather increased the strain from existing challenges. “For us, the problem is our inability to collect revenue, according to the size and quality of our audience. It isn’t just coronavirus that has done that – that has been an issue for years. And it’s just become more concentrated during the last few months.”

Discussing the influence of the walled gardens in the report is Damon Reeve CEO, Ozone Project, who says “We all live in a world that is dominated by a very few number of companies and that creates a lot of sensitivity around their business models, where on the one hand, we’re reliant on them for providing services and on the other, they use that to their own advantage.”

Further commenting on the influence of the tech giants Matt Scheckner, CEO, Advertising Week, describes the clash of the regulators and tech giants as “an incredible confluence of things crashing together” saying “regulatory bodies traditionally have authority in their jurisdiction and technology companies don’t recognise those walls or jurisdictions.”

Vihan Sharma, managing director Europe, LiveRamp, shares, “The environment for online advertising is becoming increasingly complex. COVID-19 has put added pressure on the industry, with brands being compelled to reduce advertising spend, and publishers having to be more creative to entice buyers. As we face big structural changes in the shape of tightened regulation and restrictions on third-party cookies and device-based IDs, we must use this as an opportunity to innovate the online advertising ecosystem, embracing the tools that will enable data collaboration and increase addressability and reach.”

“We are delighted to launch the New Internet Campaign to encourage everyone in the online advertising world to identify how to improve our industry, encourage more transparency and distinguish how to create a fairer and more democratic place for online advertising.”


LiveRamp connects people, devices and data across the physical and digital worlds, enabling more personalised, intimate connections between brands and consumers.

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