Non-compliant online marcomms “devastating” for brand owners

Marketers will need to “rigorously” audit all their digital marketing communications over the next six months or face losing consumers’ trust, according to legal experts.

The warning follows an announcement from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) that its code for non-broadcast advertising, sales promotion and direct mail is to apply to all marketing messages on companies’ websites and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, from 1 March.

From then on, the Advertising Standards Authority will regulate an area that was previously not under regulatory scrutiny.

Websites will have to comply with rules on misleading adverts and social responsibility, as well as codes governing the protection of children.

Nick Johnson, head of sponsorship and advertising law at Osborne Clarke, says that brand owners need to be “additionally cautious”.

“Some advertisers have previously taken a more relaxed view so internal auditing will be necessary,” he says.

Andrew Terry, associate and brand protection expert at law firm Eversheds, says companies will need to “cleanse” their websites to make sure they comply, paying particular attention to the potential “minefield” of old content posted years ago.

“Companies need to apply the same rigour to their own websites than they would any other marketing campaign,” he adds.

Terry adds that a new sanction, which states that the ASA could put its own ads online highlighting an advertiser’s continued non-compliance, is an “innovative” punishment that could prove to be “quite devastating” for the companies in question.

Until now, the ASA’s online remit and CAP’s codes have covered only paid-for marketing communications such as pop-up and banner ads, paid search and viral ads. The watchdog has set a six-month “period of grace” in which it will “conduct training work” to raise awareness and educate business.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here