UK ad watchdog puts better regulation of online ads at the heart its new strategy

ASA

UK ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has revealed a new five-year strategy which will see it put greater focus on the regulation of online adverts.

The overwhelming majority of the adverts that the ASA rules against are those which run online. In 2017, 88% of the 7,099 ads amended or withdrawn following ASA action were online ads, either in whole or in part, while two-thirds of the 19,000 cases resolved by the ASA last year were about online ads.

An increasing number of these ads now fall under ‘influencer marketing’ on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The ASA is over six-months into a review into how paid-for influencer and native advertising is signposted online after research found that 71% people didn’t know that influencer marketing was regulated.

“We’re a much more proactive regulator as a result of the work we’ve done in the last five years. In the next five, we want to have even more impact regulating online advertising,” said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

“Online is already well over half of our regulation, but we’ve more work to do to take further steps towards our ambition of making every UK ad a responsible ad.”

The new strategy will be revealed at the ASA’s annual conference in Manchester today (1 November).

In addition, it also plans to prioritise the protection of vulnerable people and "appropriately limit" children and young people’s exposure to age-restricted ads in sectors like food, gambling and alcohol.

It also said that it would “explore lighter-touch ways for people to flag concern” and that it was looking into how to best harness new technological solutions, including machine learning, to improve its regulation.

“The new strategy will ensure that protecting consumers remains at the heart of what we do but that our system is also fit for purpose when regulating newer forms of advertising,” added Lord Currie, chairman of the ASA.

“This also means harnessing new technology to improve our ways of working in identifying problem ads."

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