ASA set to regulate online promotions

Online promotions are set to be policed by The Advertising Standards Authority using the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) non-broadcast rules, which currently cover print, ambient, sales promotion and direct marketing campaigns.

The paper, which will bring websites under the ASA remit, is set to be published by the end of March following sign-off by marketing trade organisations.

The paper has been prepared by the Digital Media Group, a policy group formed by the Advertising Association that is a coalition of agency and trade bodies and chaired by Publicis Worldwide head of strategic planning Dan O’Donoghue.

The paper is expected to reject calls for whole websites to be treated as advertising and subject to the code, arguing that only “promotional areas” of a brand’s website should be policed.

The paper is also expected to rule that online advertising to children – a crucial area under constant high profile lobbying from special interest groups and charities – should be policed under existing CAP non-broadcast rules.

The existing code says advertising must “contain nothing that is likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm [to children].”

The new rules are likely to fall short of measures demanded by campaigners, the latest of which came from the Family and Parenting Institute and called for “brand” websites to be treated as advertising in their entirety and regulated accordingly.

The report slams some current practices used by brands such as Mattel’s Barbie, which encourages children to compile gift wishlists to send to their parents and pass on friends’ contact details to brands.

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