The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the U.K.’s independent regulator of advertising across all media, including TV, internet, sales promotions and direct marketing. The ASA’s mission is to ensure ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful by applying the Advertising Codes.
According to an article from the BBC today, the ASA will expand its power to apply its Advertising Codes to online ads beginning March 1, 2011. Additionally, the ASA will have the power to ban marketing messages from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The ASA’s power will only apply to websites, online ads and online messages that are intended to sell products and services, so online publishers and journalists will not be subject to the ASA’s oversight. The BBC article noted that 75% of complaints to the ASA are related to misleading messages in ads, and beginning in March 2011, not only will the ASA have to power to restrict and ban online ads that are found to be misleading, but they’ll also have the right to purchase ad space themselves advertising other companies’ non-compliance with ASA standards.
For brands that are used to practicing truth-in-advertising and don’t mislead consumers, the new ASA reach to the online advertising space should be welcome. Now, advertisers will be placed on a level playing field in terms of assertions and claims. However, the online space is very, very big, and the ASA won’t be able to catch all advertisers who disregard the standards. This is a step in the right direction though, and consumers should benefit from it.
You can follow the link to read more about the ASA’s newly extended authority in the digital space. While most consumers are likely to be happy about the ASA’s announcement, there will undoubtedly be some people who believe this kind of regulation and oversight in the online space is unwelcome and excessive. What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts as a consumer and as a business person.
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