ASA reports on how alcohol brands advertise on social media.
Latest Ofcom research suggests that more than half of children in the UK have a social media platform by the age of 13 so it is more important than ever that platforms can protect them from harm. With this in mind the ASA recently reported on its project identifying how alcohol brands are using social media platforms to advertise. Emily Vickers, Paralegal at PromoVeritas explains further.
The Advertising Standards Authority recently published the findings of a report identifying the trends in the use of targeting of adverts by alcohol brands after working with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube whom submitted brand-anonymised targeting data to the ASA relating to over 2,000 alcohol campaigns.
The report looked at how alcohol brands targeted their ads based on age and the online interests of the audience to conclude whether or not the selections were made in line with CAP guidance. The CAP guidance advises that advertisers should not solely rely on age-range targeting options, they should target audiences on the basis of their online browsing interests. For example, paying tax would appeal to adults. There may be more crossover with sports, so advertisers could combine sports with paying tax, in order to exclude children.
In some instances, the ASA identified that platforms were using good practices as directed by the ASA and CAP, i.e. only targeting people who were 25+ and using interest-based factors in order to reduce the likelihood of ads being seen by children.
However, the ASA concluded that in most cases alcohol brands should be doing more in order to reduce the chances of their ads appearing to children. The report found that a handful of ads did not appear to specify any demographic age targeting at all. They were targeted on the basis of age data alone and used no other targeting methods to minimise the risk of the ad appearing to under 18s. The ASA and CAP highlight the need for marketers to ensure that they always use age demographic targeting in combination with additional targeting techniques and tools to minimise this risk.
Perhaps more disappointingly, the ASA saw limited evidence of ads being barred that were targeted to audiences that have interests in topics strongly associated with under 18s.
The evidence has highlighted that platforms do have a number of useful targeting tools and techniques which can be used to filter through the target audience, in a manner which is more likely to favour adults and therefore the ASA has asked whether marketers can make use of these and refine their target markets to reduce the possibility of children who are incorrectly registered as, or wrongly inferred to be, 18+ seeing their ads.