Children exposed to 596m payday loan ads in 2012, says OfCom research

Children aged between four and 15 years old were exposed to 596 million payday loan TV ads last year, according to the latest research from Ofcom.

The regulator has revealed that the number of pay-day loan ads viewed by children in this age group surged from three million in 2008, to 466 million in 2011 and 596 million in 2012, accounting for 0.7 per cent of ads seen by this age bracket last year.

This means the average child aged between four and 15 saw 70 payday loan ads last year.

Children’s channels accounted for three per cent of payday loan ads seen by the same age group in 2012, equivalent to two "impacts" per child on these channels over the year.

Last year more than half (55 per cent) of all payday loans TV ads were broadcast between 9:30am and 4:59pm, while 16 per cent were shown between 5:00pm and 8:59pm.

A total 15 per cent were aired between 11:00pm and 5:59am; nine per cent between 6:00am and 9:29am and the remaining six per cent between 9:00pm and 10:59pm, according to Ofcom.

The research, which is based on an analysis of BARB viewing data which was tracked from 2008 to 2012 revealed that there were 17,000 payday loan TV ads in 2009, a figure that jumped to 243,000 in 2011 and spiked a further 64 per cent in 2012, taking the total to 397,000.

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs for ISBA, said: “Consumers expect advertising to be responsible and not to mislead them. Ads are there to help consumers make an informed choice, not to make their lives more difficult. The Our Regulator, the ASA, and our ad code bodies are looking closely to ensure the regulation works.

“Payday loans represent a very small proportion of ads seen by adults and children and Ofcom’s research helps put concerns around payday loans into context. The timing of the ads, often late at night, also needs to be taken into account. Payday loans are attracting some criticism but the truth is they are used and welcomed by people who have nowhere else to go, other than illegal loan sharks.”

The report's findings follow Labour Minister Ed Miliband's call for a ban of payday loan ads during children's TV programmes, last month.

Ofcom will continue to monitor trends in TV ads for pay day lending.