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ASA to clamp down on online adverts
Wednesday 01 September 2010 15:34:27 by John Hunt

The ASA have announced today that they will be clamping down on online advertisements following a significant change to their remit which will now include digital advertising. Previously the ASA had no powers to post sanctions against advertisers online even though the organisation received over 4,500 complaints since 2008. The adjustments made by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the body responsible for writing the CAP code that the ASA enforces, will force advertisers to be open and honest in any marketing communications, including those on their own websites and also through non-paid for space such as Facebook and Twitter.

"This significant extension of the ASA's remit has the protection of children and consumers at its heart. We have received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about marketing communications on websites that we couldn‟t deal with, but from 1 March anyone who has a concern about a marketing communication online will be able to turn to the ASA."

Lord Chris Smith, (Chairman) ASA

Including the current sanctions which the ASA operate for any media such as not allowing ads to be run again, further sanctions can be taken which include the ASA forcing the removal of paid-for search advertisements if they are non-compliant (and with agreement of the search engines) as well as the ASA's own paid-for search advertisements to highlight an advertisers non-compliance with the relevant code. The new rules will come in to force on the 1st of March following a 6 month grace period to promote awareness.

We hope the ASA will soon announce similar action with broadband advertisements which currently advertise speeds as 'up-to' a specific limit even when the majority of customers will never see this kind of speed. This is currently under review with the advertising code writing bodies.


Posted by New_Londoner over 7 years ago
Interesting to see the ASA expand its scope like this - it will certainly be a challenge to cover such a wide range of media.

With regards broadband advertising, the key thing is to see a clear requirement for to be told what speed I might expect on my line before signing a contract. I'm not that interested in averages for the ISP etc, happy to see the "up to" speed translated into something specific for my location.
Posted by whatever2 over 7 years ago
how will they cope with adverts hosted outside uk shores but targeting uk punters?
Posted by brett7 over 7 years ago
or ads hosted in UK and targeting non-UK users, or ads shown to users in UK who aren't using a UK IP address...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Excellent news indeed. It wont be down to where the ads or site is but who the company concerned is... IE if FredBloggs inc telecom advertises something thats a bit suspect and they are a UK company the ASA simply tell them their ad isnt acceptable and to withdraw it.
Its very simple.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
I look forward to it, no more silly shockwave falsh banners from certain companies promising things like "The uks best network" OR "Special limited offer" when its been the same price for months, "Free calls" which are not free unless you take call bundles which cost you money...... Oh its gonna be great.
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
They'll still allow VM to call a piece of coax "fibre" though :-)

or to claim that their ADLS is different to everybody else's
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
doh ! ADSL of course ^^^^
Posted by davolente over 7 years ago
High time this happened. I made a complaint about a so-called UK "psychic" who was selling all sorts of rubbish on his website (including creams of doubtful provenance) which he alleges were "charged with healing powers during meditation" by him and his "spirit guide doctor". The ASA said they were powerless to act at the time. Here we go again!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
The whole what is and isnt fibre debate has been and gone, BTs FTTC is no less nor more fibre than virgins service. The ASA and ofcom whimped out on that call.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
@davolente Are you sure it wasnt a spirit consuming doctor, i hear there are lots of them ;)
Posted by walkerx over 7 years ago
all adverts should be banned - they slow down webpages and affect users who only have a certain allowance
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
^^^ That wouldnt work, many sites rely on advertising revenue either entirely or in part. This site has ads and im sure its not only for the owners to become rich but also to financially benefit the site. I wouldnt like to see this site dissapear if funds dried up due to not being allowed HONEST adverts.
Posted by marco6969 over 7 years ago
I use adblock it stops a lot of these adverts loading !!
Posted by shaunhw over 7 years ago
As far as I know the ASA can only act against advertising agencies who have agreed to abide by their decisions. They are not any kind of statutory authority as far as I am aware and their power simply comes from consent of the people in the advertising business and large companies who have also agreed to be bound my their decisions.

Thus if I put an advert on my website which is untrue I do not think the ASA have any power to remove it from my site.

Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Thus if I put an advert on my website which is untrue I do not think the ASA have any power to remove it from my site."

No they would just refer it to trading standards and you would be in court, thats the end of that.
Posted by shaunhw over 7 years ago

CB Yes you are correct, but of course I realise this and the ASA might just do that.

So what about true and honest one which was simply advertised in a way the ASA didn't like ? For example, risque, possibly sexist, but not legally obscene ?

The ASA are very busy ordering adverts like that, to be removed that are, in themselves perfectly legal in content. IE they wouldn't have broken any laws such as related to obscenity or indecent displays etc.

What could they do about such an online advert placed there by an individual ?

Nothing is the answer.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
The ASA would ask you to remove it, if it broke advertising codes. Their role in general is to ensure ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful by applying Advertising Codes. You can find out more about them on their site. They dont just remove ads because they personally dont like them. If you dont listen and your ad violates the above then they may take further action.
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