After nine years of handling complaints over online advertising and advising online banner advertisers, the ASA and the CAP are now finally getting a contribution to the cost of their efforts from digital advertisers. We report on the new ASBOF levy on internet advertising.
Topic: Digital marketing
Who: The Advertising Standards Board of Finance
Where: The UK
When: 1 August 2004
To a very muted fanfare, 1 August 2004 saw a significant event in the annals of the regulation of digital marketing in the UK.
This was the extension of the ASBOF levy system to internet advertising.
For a decade, the ASBOF levy has financed the UK’s self regulatory system for non-broadcast advertising. Administered by the Advertising Standards Authority’s sister body the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, the levy is at a rate of 0.1% of advertising spend in the media which the ASA/ASBOF/CAP system regulates. It is collected through agencies who buy media but up until 1 August 2004, the levy did not apply to on-line advertising spend. This was despite the fact that since 1995 the ASA has been processing complaints about internet campaigns.
Increasing banner ad complaints
In the early years, complaints in respect of paid-for ads on websites were a trickle, but by 2001, 750 complaints about internet ads had been resolved and by 2003 this figure had risen to 1,200. The equivalent figure for 2003 for direct mail was 2,521, but internet ad complaint processing was now taking up a sizeable chunk of ASA resources and it was clearly time for the medium to start paying its way.
Currently the ASA will deal with complaints about paid for advertising on-line, as well as email marketing and on line promotions such as prize draws and competitions. It will not, however, deal with complaints in respect of an advertiser’s own marketing material, sitting on its own website.
Why this matters:
Now that on-line ads are within the levy system, it can surely only be a matter of time before general e-mail and SMS marketing is brought into the tent. Last year the ASA resolved 455 complaints about e-mail campaigns, increased from 65 in 2002, while SMS complaints increased from 65 to 393 during the same period.
For the moment, however, at least on line banner ads are now regarded as sufficiently mature as an advertising medium to be able to pay into the ASBOF pot.