The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has revealed plans next spring to extend its regulatory arm to encompass online marketing and online advertising.
From 1 March 2010, the ASA will have what chairman Chris Smith has described as “the most comprehensive approach to the regulation of advertising in website space anywhere in the world.”
Over the past few years, the ASA has received some 4,500 complaints concerning online marketing, yet has been unable to take little or no action.
However, from March next year it will be able to intervene to maintain online advertising’s self-regulatory system – particularly when it comes to protecting the safety of children on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The ASA website will feature a “rogues’ gallery” of online marketing offenders against its code of practice and warnings will appear in the results of Google and other search engines. There will also be a list of products and brands that defy the code.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which wrote and maintains the code of practice decided to extend the ASA’s remit after a formal recommendation from a wide cross-section of British industry.
The advertising and marketing industry has itself agreed to apply a standard 0.1 per cent levy on all paid-for advertising on internet search engines, extending the existing funding mechanism across other media that pays for the ASA. Google is providing the initial seed capital.
Website owners and online advertising agencies are urged to sign up to CAP Services to receive guidance and training so their sites will comply with the new rules before they come into effect.
CAP chairman Andrew Brown said, “Our aim has been to extend further in the online world the principles that are already well established in our system, namely those of effective consumer protection and fair competition.”