Latest advertising news: new consultations on online advertising and advertising alcohol alternatives, and more

Online advertising consultation

The UK government has recently launched an Online Advertising Program consultation. The purpose of the consultation is to review the paid framework for paid-for online advertising and consider how it can build on the existing self-regulatory framework currently overseen by the ASA. The consultation is open for submissions until 1 June 2022.

While the government notes the benefits of online advertising, it says that it also carries risks and potentially damaging consequences, including illegal fraudulent adverts and legal but harmful adverts such as those which mislead and target vulnerable groups. The aim of the Program is to tackle the perceived lack of transparency and accountability across the entire supply chain for paid-for online advertising.

The government indicates that it wants to give regulators greater powers and tools to help regulate and minimize harms, saying that, “We want to ensure that regulators have good sight of what is happening across the vast, complex, often opaque and automated supply chain, where highly personalized adverts are being delivered at speed and scale.”

The government also wishes to spread responsibility for transparency and accountability across the supply chain. Advertisers are currently primarily responsible for the creative content, media placement and audience targeting of their adverts. There is only a secondary responsibility for others, and it is the government’s intention to change that, so that intermediaries, platforms and publishers can also play a greater role in the regulation of online advertising.

The consultation document outlines options for the level of regulatory oversight that could be applied across the supply chain. Views are sought on three main approaches, including self-regulation and the creation of a new statutory regulator which would issue Codes of Practice and have a range of enforcement powers.

The review sits alongside measures proposed to be introduced by the Online Safety Bill (which includes a stand-alone measure for in-scope services to tackle fraudulent advertising). According to the government, the Program will ensure other organizations in the supply chain also play a role in tackling fraud and other harms from online advertising.

Advertising alcohol alternative products: new consultation

The UK government is consulting on the regulation of advertising alcohol alternative products, including low alcohol products. The consultation seeks input on proposed new CAP and BCAP Code rules and new formal guidance to regulate alternative alcohol products. The consultation questions are:

  • Is the definition of “alcohol alternatives” clear, feasible and appropriate?
  • Do respondents agree with the principles and / or wording of the proposed rules and guidance, whether individually or in general?
  • Do respondents have any comments on the circumstances under which the full, standard alcohol rules would and would not apply?

Those wishing to respond to the consultation should do so by 5 May 2022.

ASA publishes guidance on advertising cryptoassets

New guidance on the advertising of cryptoassets has been published by the ASA. According to the ASA, guidance has been issued because cryptoassets are complex and volatile products that are becoming increasingly popular and widespread in the UK. Because of the risks and complexities involved, advertisers of cryptoassets must take particular care to ensure they do not mislead consumers and are not socially irresponsible in the way they promote them.

ASA announces pilot to enhance online transparency

The ASA has announced a one-year pilot from June 2022, to enhance online transparency. The initiative is a result of collaboration between the ASA and various IAB UK members, including online platforms, demand-side platforms and supply-side platforms. It will pilot a set of principles. The principles include bringing the CAP Code to the attention of advertisers, ensuring advertising policies and contract terms require compliance with the CAP Code, and taking steps to help enforce ASA rulings if advertisers do not cooperate.

The ASA will use information collected through the pilot to publish an interim and final report. It will use these to make recommendations for best practice, areas for improvement, and consider whether there are any gaps in the ASA’s ability to enforce the CAP Code online and how to address them.

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