Two companies at large in the UK control around 80% of a £14 billion digital advertising market – how does this happen and why does it matter?

In the UK, around £14 billion is spent on digital advertising, of which just over half (£7.3 billion) is spent on search. Google enjoys a 93% share of that market. Meanwhile, Facebook controls more than half of the country’s display market.

Together, that’s 80% of the industry, according to the Competition and Markets Authority’s study into digital advertising in the UK, where you can read WARC’s exploration of the findings here.

The CMA, a non-ministerial UK government body, is able to do what its counterparts in the United States – a direct equivalent would sit somewhere between the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice – are unable to do.

It has the power to examine a market without seeking transgression, accessing more than five terabytes of data and holding more than 150 meetings with Google and Facebook executives

The findings, while not entirely surprising, give a shape to the hunch about how these companies operate.

Ultimately, their power is self-fulfilling in that the more data each possesses, the stronger they become. But it wasn’t always like this. For instance, defaults are a major expenditure for a company such as Google, which itself buys real estate on mobile devices in return for easeful access to users.

But more problematically is how their size brings a different kind of power. Access to vast quantities of personal data has made of Google and Facebook quasi-regulators, whose gatekeeper roles means that the rules they set have implications not just within their own ecosystem but outside of it.

Sourced from WARC