ASA offer new guidance for age-restricted online advertising
In the week that TikTok updated their privacy settings to make the app safer for younger users, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has launched new guidance that is also aimed at protecting children from unsuitable ads on the internet. Shelley Davies, Managing Director at PromoVeritas, takes a look at how the safety of children is now paramount for marketers.
TikTok have introduced safety measures aimed at keeping under age users safe. Accounts registered to those aged between 13 and 15 will now be set to ‘private’ by default, limiting who can view or comment on their posts. Also, the option to “Suggest your account to others” will be set to ‘off’ by default for minors and they will not be allowed to collaborate using TikTok’s Duet and Stitch features which both focus on sharing a user’s content. And video downloads are only allowed for over 16 year olds. “The groundbreaking changes announced today mark the next step in our mission to ensure TikTok is a safe platform for all our users” said Alexandra Evans, TikTok’s European Head of Child Safety.
Meanwhile the CAP’s new guidance for age-restricted advertising online has the same objective – protecting underage users from inappropriate content. Here’s a summary of its key points:
When is advertising restricted?
Age-restricted products must not target advertising at under 16 year olds, young people (16-17 years), or audiences where they form more than 25% of the likely audience.
Which products are ‘age-restricted’?
These include gambling, alcohol, cigarettes, or where there is a specific policy seeking to limiting young people’s exposure to them as High Fat, Sodium & Sugar products (HFSS) and e-cigarette products.
Who is the guidance aimed at?
Mainly online advertisers who use paid and organic content on social media and video sharing platforms, as well as their affiliates. However the guidance should be useful to all marketers.
Online media and targeting
Marketers should use appropriate tools and programmatic advertising to define their target audiences and eliminate under-age audiences from being served inappropriate ads as much as possible.
Media for children and young people
Don’t place age-restricted adverts in or around media that is directed at children. For instance, don’t put ads for betting apps on a website aimed at children.
Limiting organic exposure
Organic ads are usually those on a brand’s own social media page or paid-for Influencers posts. CAP’s rules still apply regarding restricting ads if the audience is more than 25% underage followers.
The Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA, CAP’s watchdog) will investigate complaints about inappropriate ads and will expect marketers to demonstrate the steps they have taken to restrict their campaign and limit exposure to underage audiences.
The PromoVeritas Point of View
CAP’s guidance could not have come at a better time. The ability of parents to control and limit access to the internet by their children is more difficult than ever before, so we think it is a wise decision for CAP to help brands act responsibly in order to protect children. Some of the guidance can be tricky to follow – for instance defining the age make-up of an Influencer’s followers will rely on third-party data that may not be accurate.
In all cases, it is up to the brand to do their own due-diligence so it would be prudent to keep a record of the data and information you are using to determine the audience ages; this will be invaluable if a complaint is made to the ASA. We also recommend using careful judgement when advertising age-restricted products to 18-23 year olds. They are on the cusp of the restricted audience and media and advertising for them may still be appeal to those underage – for instance on music festival websites.