Advertising Association prepares for self-regulatory digital review

The Advertising Association (AA) is preparing to launch a review of digital media in an attempt to future-proof self-regulation of the medium.

It will launch a consultation with members and other stakeholders at the end of this month and continue tougher lobbying, its stance under chief executive Baroness Peta Buscombe who joined the AA at the end of 2006.

The advertising trade body is expected to call for tougher self-regulation in order to side-step legislation and answer critics who have suggested brands use the internet as a marketing loophole because of heavy advertising rules on other media.

Earlier this week the National Consumer Council (NCC) reiterated its call for “proper enforcement” of online rules to protect children from stealth marketing on the Web. Last month the council published a report suggesting children were exposed to “opaque commercial practices” on websites designed for them, as well as ads for adult- only services, such as gambling and dating.

There are also fears that tobacco, “junk food”, gambling and alcohol brands, which are banned or heavily regulated in traditional media, use the Web as a loophole or do not stick to the spirit of existing marketing codes.

Buscombe has previously talked about the need to future-proof new media, making it the subject of her first public talk last year (MW February 7, 2007). She said it was imperative that self-regulation in the digital age remains effective because perceived gaps would “undermine” the credibility of the whole system.

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