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ASA remit extended to digital space

Posted on 3rd September 2010 in Insight
Written by: Fiona Rickard

The Advertising Standards Authority, the UK ad industry’s regulatory body, will have its remit extended to cover brand websites, social networks and similar tools from March 2011. Marketing messages hosted on advertisers’ corporate websites – as well as those on other “non-paid-for space” will be under its control. Social networking websites have a significant consumer reach, are popular with children and young people and play an increasing role in public policy debates. Furthermore Advergames, mobile apps and user-generated content solicited by companies, or which is subsequently incorporated into their corporate campaigns, also now face heightened scrutiny.

The ASA has received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about marketing communications on websites which currently are outside its remit. From March it will apply the most comprehensive approach to the regulation of advertising in website space anywhere in the world. The ASA document outlining the proposals is in response to the growing level and changing nature of marketing in the digital space and the need to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults. Criteria for judging possible infringements include the context and content in which the alleged breach occurred and if there is an “invitation to purchase.”

Companies contravening the updated protocol and failing to amend or withdraw the offending material may feature in search ads “highlighting an advertiser’s continued non-compliance.” Further sanctions include providing details of the organisation and communications concerned on a dedicated section of the ASA’s website, and removing paid search links to the content in question with the approval of the firm hosting the ad.

Data sourced from ASA/Financial Times and Warc 02 September 2010