The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) is setting up a self-regulatory code of practice for companies advertising their products or services on the Internet, with the aim of improving consumer confidence.
The launch of the code, on October 24, follows a surge in the number of complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about ads on the Web. Nearly 300 complaints have been made so far this year, compared with 113 last year.
Ads placed on the Internet by companies which sign up to the code will carry an icon indicating to consumers that they abide by the British code for advertising and self promotion.
The scheme will initially be open to companies which are already members of trade associations, before being extended to other businesses.
Although Internet advertising has been regulated by the ASA since 1995, the regulatory bodies believe there is still a lack of consumer confidence in ads placed on the Web.
CAP director Andrew Brown says: “The level of consumer confidence in the Net is disappointingly low. In order for it to be an effective communication medium it is desirable to try to devise ways in which that confidence can be increased.”
He stresses that the icon displayed by members should not be taken as an indication that the ads have been vetted by the ASA.
“It is meant to be a code of best practice and a way for companies to make a public statement to say that they agree that all their advertisements will abide by the British codes of advertising and self promotion.”