UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Digital Economy and Algorithmic Rents

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) works closely with governments and researchers to critically analyse how digital platforms shape markets and public value creation.

Digital Economy and Algorithmic Rents

Today’s large digital platforms are gatekeepers, which users and third-party firms are reliant on for access to vital services and markets. Sponsored by the Omidyar Network, our digital economy and rents research team investigates the harms and regulatory responses to gatekeepers abuse of their market power. 

Many digital platforms provide users with ‘free’ services. This means that a deeper understanding of digital monopoly power and rents requires conceptualizing the non-price harms typical of digital platforms. Our research has three areas of focus:

person pointing at laptop

Policies and Disclosures for Gatekeeper Platforms

Disclosures and other policy recommendations to ensure digital platforms can contribute to public value creation. 

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Algorithmic Attention Rents

Gatekeeper market power is often expressed through the platform allocating scarce user attention to information outputs which increases their profits and user lock-in. This can come at the expense of users and the platform’s third-party ecosystem of firms. 

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Evidence on Gatekeeper Harms

 Using large datasets and innovative theoretical frameworks, we provide evidence on the business strategies which digital gatekeeper platforms use to increase their profits and market power. We focus on how algorithmic attention rents can harm third-party ecosystems and user welfare.

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The UCL IIPP’s Digital Economy and Rents research team is funded through a generous ongoing grant from the Omidyar Network. We are grateful for their continuous support. The research team consists of: 

Prof. Mariana Mazzucato (principal investigator, Founding Director of UCL IIPP) 

Tim O'Reilly
Tim O’Reilly (CEO and Founder of O’Reilly Media, Visiting Prof. of Practise UCL IIPP) 

Ilan Strauss
Dr. Ilan Strauss (Head of Digital Economy, Senior Research Associate UCL IIPP) 
  • Brandon Taylor (Quantitative Research Associate UCL IIPP) 
  • Rufus Rock (Research Assistant UCL IIPP)

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    Ilan StraussSenior Research Associate at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP).

    Email: i.strauss@ucl.ac.uk