UK marketers say GDPR poses a greater digital challenge than transparency or brand safety

89% of UK brand marketers said GDPR was a top priority for 2018

Amid an increased focus on protecting consumer data and the threat of multi-million fines for non-compliance, UK marketers have cited the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation as being their biggest challenge in the digital advertising arena for the year ahead.

A study from measurement and analytics firm Integral Ad Science (IAS), has found that a significant 89% of UK brand marketers said GDPR was a top priority for 2018. On the agency side, 68% of professionals agreed.

The figures follow on from a report at the start of the year which claimed that some 60% of EU businesses were unprepared for the regulation.

The law comes into place on 25 May, covering everything from data portability and cyber security to consent, and will carry with it fines of up to 4% of firm’s annual turnover or €20m (£18m) – whichever is higher – for non-compliance.

IAS’ study comprised 332 senior marketing professionals, with most saying the next biggest challenge they faced was transparency – which was again a bigger issue for advertisers with 56% citing it as a key concern against 50% of agency marketers.

The third most noteworthy obstacle for the year ahead outlined by the industry was the issue of brand safety – which was brought to the fore following YouTube’s ongoing crisis in 2017. Interestingly, agencies were actually more concerned about ad misplacement that brands were, with 63% of agencies saying it was top of the agenda against 44% of brands.

When it comes to brand safety, almost three-quarters of all respondents (69%) said that ads being delivered adjacent to risky content was the greatest challenge posed specifically by programmatic advertising.

A further 41% said they viewed brand safety as the most considerable threat to increasing investment in the space.

Another big theme was ad fraud, which The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), claims is "second only to the drugs trade" as a source of income for organised crime and set to cost the global industry $50bn by 2025. IAS found that 54% of respondents were concerned about levels of ad fraud in 2017.

More than one-third of all respondents (36%) said there was a lack of premium inventory available on the programmatic side; the opening up of which has been touted as a solution to both ad fraud and ad misplacement.

Last month, Iotech launched its Ethical Adtech manifesto in a bid to help steer marketers through issues such as brand safety and ad fraud.

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