ASA releases report on age-restricted ads and rule breaches

ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, has officially released its findings from its most recent monitoring sweeps. These audits are part of its year-long plan to identify and prevent age-restricted adverts from cropping up in children’s online media.

ASA conducted its sweep in a three-month period, spanning from October 2020 to December 2020. The organisation used monitoring tools to capture age-restricted ads and looked at a sample of 49 websites and 12 YouTube channels which predominately attracted child audiences.

Repeat offenders will be punished for flouting regulations

Advertisements which involved gambling, e-cigarettes and tobacco, alcohol, slimming and weight-loss products, and sugary/fatty/salty foods were all analysed. In total, ASA found 47 age-restricted ads had flouted marketing restrictions. Meanwhile, 21 advertisers were discovered to have placed age-restricted ads on 23 websites and 8 YouTube channels with a high-child audience.

“Following our first and second reports, the ASA is encouraged by the lower number of ads found to have broken the rules,” said the statement from ASA. “Once we have run the monitoring again in Q1 2021, we will in the summer publish a final report, reflecting back on this year-long project and in which we reserve the discretion to publicise repeat offenders, if there are any.”

Zero tolerance for irresponsible age-restricted ads

Advertisements for gambling, alcohol and weight-loss stayed at their previous levels. Specifically looking at gambling, there were 3 ad breaches on 3 different websites. These breaches were all made by the same advertiser.

“We remain alive to concerns and we will be monitoring and reporting on this again,” commented Guy Parker, the chief executive of ASA. “But we’re making significant progress in our ambition to build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children and we expect that progress to continue.”

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