With the significance and volume of online ads seemingly increasing each year, it is worth noting a turning point issued by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In the year leading to May 2018, the ASA received more complaints for online ads than for those on TV for the first time ever.
Online ads had double the complaints of TV, and the authority claims this trend reflects changes in the wider ad ecosystem. TV's 10,932 complaints about 9,951 online ads eclipsed TV’s 9,466 complaints about 4,666 ads.
The ASA also noted that it handled 14% more cases than the previous year, 27,138 complaints regarding some 19,398 ads.
It also saw a record number of ads amended or withdrawn after its intervention (7,099) and delivered 389,289 pieces of advice and training the businesses.
Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: “We want to make sure ads are responsible without consumers necessarily having to complain to us. By being more proactive, we’ve secured the amendment or withdrawal of more ads than ever before.
“At the same time, we’ve delivered a record amount of advice and training to help businesses get their ads right before they run. Our approach is helping make ads more responsible, which is in the best interests of consumers, businesses and wider society.”
The group noted some of its most notable interventions in the last year, this included ensuring responsible alcohol ad targeting, as well as gambling and junk food restrictions. Harmful gender stereotypes and misleading free trial and free delivery claims were in its sights.