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UK online marketers cite Covid-19, Brexit and regulation as greatest threats

Choppy waters ahead? The pandemic, Brexit and walled gardens all worrying marketers

A new report outlining the state of play among British advertising professionals has highlighted the key challenges facing the sector, with the global pandemic and Brexit foremost in the minds of those assessing future threats.

What are marketers most worried about in 2020?

  • Unsurprisingly, the global pandemic is cited as the greatest threat by 36% of the 506 British marketing professionals surveyed by LiveRamp and YouGov.

  • However, Brexit ran it close with 26% fearful of the shifting regulatory landscape presenting a headache, while 25% are concerned about the domination of ‘walled gardens’ online.

Why does it matter?

  • The UK is an online advertising heavyweight, with the sector accounting for 62% of total advertising spend of £23.6bn in 2020 – growth of 5% on the previous year.

  • Highlighting the exacerbating impact of Covid-19, Nick Hewat, the commercial director of Guardian News & Media, said: “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.”

  • One of these pre-existing issues is walled gardens, with Ozone Project chief exec Damon Reeve observing that the dominance of a few companies “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”.

  • Fearing we could be caught up in a titanic clash between regulators and the tech giants, Advertising Week chief executive Matt Scheckner added: “Regulatory bodies traditionally have authority in their jurisdiction and technology companies don’t recognise those walls or jurisdictions.”

  • Another voice mindful of future issues is Vihan Sharma, managing director for Europ, at LiveRamp, who commented: “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.”

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