Last week the ASA published its annual report discussing the changes in advertising regulations during 2017.
The year saw 7,099 ads amended or withdrawn following 27,138 complaints of 19,398 ads. This is a record number with a 14% increase in cases. The report reveals that the balance in advertising regulation is shifting, since the past year saw the internet overtake TV as the most complained about medium. This shows that as online advertising becomes more popular, it is becoming all the more important to get it right. In order to help advertisers follow the guidelines, the ASA report also included the top 10 regulatory interventions of 2017.
- Alcohol Advertising: To ensure alcohol ads are targeted responsibly, the ASA enforced new standards which require advertisers to show they have targeted ads appropriately on social media.
- Gambling Advertising: To act against irresponsible gambling advertising the ASA wrote to online gambling operators instructing them to remove from their games, ads that were likely to appeal to children
- Food Advertising: There are new food restrictions for products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) which prohibit them from appearing in children’s non-broadcast media such as social media platforms
- Gender Stereotypes: To avoid harmful gender stereotypes, new rules and detailed guidance will be issued keep up to date with regulations
- Free Trial Promotions: The ASA announced clear standards on “Free trial” and other promotional offers to protect consumers from misleading subscriptions traps
- Broadband Speed Claims: A new and tougher set of standards will come into force to ensure broadband speed claims do not mislead
- Influencer Advertising: The ASA banned social media posts by influencers that were not sufficiently clear that the posts were ads in order to ensure influencer transparency
- UK Universities: To create a level playing field, ads from six universities were banned due to misleading claims regarding rankings, student satisfaction and graduate prospects
- Holiday Advertising: Over 250 complaints about travel ads not being available at the offered price or notional “savings” claims which could not be proven were investigated in order to challenge unfair dynamic pricing
- Estate Agents: As part of compliance action in relation to estate agents, clear standards were issued to the property sector regarding misleading practices and instructing businesses to take immediate action to make sure their ads follow the rules.
As the ASA continues to strive to ensure all advertisements follow regulations companies need to know the guidelines to avoid rulings and bad publicity.