ASA issues online marcoms ruling

The advertising watchdog has handed marketers a clear idea of what it considers inappropriate online communication by issuing its first ruling in the area.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that a claim made on The Maperton Trust’s website that a device it produces could repel head lice could not be substantiated.

It is the first ruling on digital marcoms since the ASA’s remit was extended to include non-paid for online marketing communications on 1 March. Before then, the ASA’s online remit and CAP’s non-broadcast codes covered only paid-for marketing communications, such as pop-up and banner ads, paid search and viral ads.

The advertising industry has been eagerly awaiting the first batch of rulings from the regulator.

Concern has been raised about the regulation of user-generated content; what constitutes PR; and issues around enforcing codes on social media activity.
A spokesman for the Advertising Association says: “The reasons behind the adjudication illustrate why the industry recommended the extension of the ASA’s remit.”

Complaints about online marketing communications are up on previous years since the watchdog’s remit was extended. The ASA estimates that it received 4,500 complaints about online marcoms between 2008 and 2010.

The Maperton Trust has been ordered to remove all such claims from its website. It had argued that the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency had been satisfied with the way the device had been marketed.

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