Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 16 May 2023
Law stated as at: 8 June 2023
The ASA and CAP have published their Annual Report 2022, which is the self-dubbed “one-stop shop” for all things advertising regulation over the last 60 years. The report charts the evolution and expansion of the ASA’s remit to regulating different forms of media, from TV and radio to websites and social media accounts. The report also shines a spotlight on the ASA’s key areas of focus over the last year, namely:
- ads mis-targeted at children, in respect of which CAP has issued new guidance to further reduce children’s exposure to age-restricted ads online;
- unevidenced green claims, which resulted in high profile investigations and a body of published research into consumers’ understanding of terms like “carbon neutral” and “net zero”;
- irresponsible crypto ads, which were identified as a “red alert” issue and resulted in priority investigations and rulings that changed the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency ads, and;
- hidden influencer ads, to which the ASA applied sanctions and also launched a machine learning initiative to identify ad content that is likely to be unlabelled.
Looking to the future, the report also highlights the ASA’s ambition to embrace technology and AI in order to proactively regulate advertising in an online environment. For example, over the last year the ASA has worked with audience measurement partners and used social media listening tools to detect problematic online content. The ASA has also been growing its own in-house data science team to facilitate the development of in-house tools that can automatically detect certain types of content and identify high priority ads for expert review. In addition to this, the ASA also launched its Intermediary Platform Pilot last year, in a collaboration with several key players in the digital ad supply chain, to help increase advertisers’ awareness of the rules, improve enforcement and help inform changes to the regulatory framework.
Why this matters:
One of the key takeaways from the annual report is the ASA’s notable shift from reactive to proactive advertising regulation in an online environment. With the assistance of technology, the ASA’s capacity to monitor and enforce compliance could increase exponentially. For advertisers, this means that there has never been a more important time to ensure compliance with rules.