ASA strives for crackdown on consumer protection

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has placed more of a focus upon increasing the impact of online advertising standards.
With online cases outnumbering its television counterpart by almost three to one, new projects will be undertaken by both organisations, as part of a new five year strategy, which will see the watchdog emphasise online standards.
As part of the report, it has been found that CAP and the ASA have amended or withdrawn more advertisements than ever before during 2018, it has been revealed in a newly published annual report.
When breaking down the annual figures, the ASA have revealed that it has resolved 33,727 issues about 25,259 ads, of those 16,059 complaints (a 4 percent jump on 2017) were about 14,257 online ads (a 38 per cent increase), with 10,773 complaints (a 14 per cent rise) about 5,748 TV ads (increasing 23 per cent).
The CAP, which writes and maintains UK advertising codes, has delivered 535,478 pieces of advice and training to business in order to help them get their ads right, which increases by 38 percent for each consecutive year.
Reviews of actions to tackle consumer harms and protection of the financially vulnerable were also looked at, including new guidance on gambling ads to responsibly protect under-18s, with rules regarding superimposed text an parcel delivery changes also being included.
Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive, commented: “It’s been a busy year, largely driven by complaints and cases about online ads. That’s why our new five-year strategy is focused on strengthening the regulation of online advertising while using new tech to protect the public.
“Our recent use of new avatar technology is a taste of what’s to come under the new strategy, and we look forward to working with our partners to further increase the impact we’re having online.”
Among the steps which have already been undertake to strengthen the regulation of online advertising, the ASA has recently introduced Child Avatars, designed to simulate children’s browsing activity – to identify ads that children see online.
An extension of the technology is also planned, as is research into further new technologies to help improve the protection of the public. The ASA states that its avatar efforts have seen ads from five gambling operators banned thus far.
Furthermore, ‘More Impact Online’ is a new initiative to be brought forward as a direct result of the increasing online habits of individuals, with businesses increasingly targeting internet advertising, as technological developments also continues its fast pace.

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