Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 30 July 2020
Law stated as at: 30 September 2020
CAP has issued a response to its October 2019 call for evidence concerning children’s recognition of online advertising.
Recognition rules are part of the framework of rules under the CAP Code intended to counter misleading advertising; rule 2.1 of the Code states that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.
CAP’s current guidance concerning the recognition by children of ads in online media was published in 2017. The guidance responded to evidence that questioned younger children’s ability to recognise certain kinds of online advertising and aimed to help marketers prepare their online campaigns in a responsible way.
In calling for evidence and proactively reviewing the 2017 guidance shortly after publication, CAP acknowledged the fast-evolving nature of online media and the potential risks this poses to younger media users.
There were seven respondents to the call, which were largely positive, and a number of respondents praised the impact the guidance is having on marketing practice and industry norms. No new evidence was provided to suggest the guidance requires revision, however CAP acknowledges in its report that the significance of this should be understood in the context of the limited number of respondents and limited ASA casework on recognition rules in connection with younger audiences to date.
The report concludes that while there are good grounds for the effectiveness of the guidance – its usability and basis in evidence – CAP recognises the importance of this policy issue in the context of the rapidly evolving online media environment which is playing an increasingly important role in children’s lives.
Why this matters:
While the current guidance and policy approach has passed muster, CAP has committed to continual monitoring of emerging evidence. It also plans to carry out a compliance exercise later in the year to more proactively test compliance with the guidance in key sectors, which may include toys, video games, entertainment, food and soft drinks.