Advertising Association submits recommendations for extended digital regulation

The Advertising Association (AA) has submitted the industry’s recommendations to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), for the extension of the non-broadcast Advertising Code in digital media, which will be administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).  

The recommendations, if accepted, will bring companies’ marketing communications on their own websites, and other non-paid for space online, such as brand activity on social networking sites, within scope of the CAP Code. 

All other marketing communications activity in paid-for space online, such as search marketing and display advertising, is already within the ASA’s remit and subject to the CAP Code.

The AA claims this is a “landmark move for advertising self-regulation seeks to address societal concerns and will increase protection for consumers and children.”

It is believed that the extended remit will come into force during the third quarter of 2010, once formally ratified by CAP and the ASA, and after appropriate consultation.

This announcement follows the successful resolution of funding collection issues in November 2009. It also represents a response to recommendations made in recent high level reports such as the Byron Review, Digital Britain (pictured) and the Buckingham Report.

Rae Burdon, chief operating officer at the AA, says: “Contrary to general understanding, much advertising online is already in remit and there’s a very high level of compliance with the existing rules.  There are some complex issues in the remaining space which require careful analysis.”

“The industry has delivered to CAP a clear mandate that first and foremost will protect consumers and children, that will also – crucially – protect editorial content, and that will, if accepted, maintain CAP/ASA’s reputation as a world-class operation.  The whole industry has pulled together to make this happen.  What’s important now is effective implementation and raising consumer and stakeholder awareness.”

The non-broadcast and broadcast advertising codes were reviewed last year, and a full consultation process has recently been completed. The new Codes are expected to be published this month and will come into effect in the Autumn, at the same time as the new extended digital remit.

Advertiser body ISBA has welcomed the new plans to extend the existing rules to cover the content of commercial websites for the first time.

ISBA’s Director of Public Affairs Ian Twinn says: “We have been campaigning for this move for some time and so it is rewarding to see progress.

“In particular, we welcome the support from media owners which has helped make it possible. They will be helping to ensure that claims on marketers’ own company websites will be subject to the advertising codes in the same way as paid-for ads like banners and pop-ups.

“It is the firm view of advertisers that if something looks and feels like an ad, then it should be regulated like an ad.”

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