Regulation changes: ASA tasked with regulating content on websites
From the 1st March 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will regulate promotion company websites as well as third party websites, such as Twitter and Facebook. To date the online promotion has not been regulated, which in some instances has led to disgruntled and confused consumers.
The ASA’s duty is to ensure advertising is legal, honest, decent and truthful in order for consumers to trust the website and advertising.
From the 1st March 2011 all websites will have to adhere to the CAP code which can be obtained here.
Many consumers will welcome the changes to the online industry which have infuriated those who use the internet due to mis-selling or inaccurate promotion.
Case examples, such as Ryanair’s online advertising promotion of ‘one penny flights’, was highly criticised by the general public because the total cost misled the consumer. In the end after taxes and charges were applied, the total cost of the flight was closer to £40. There is no doubt that £40 for a flight to Barcelona is a great deal, but Ryanair’s advertising was suggestive of a cheaper price.
The ASA has launched a B2B advertising campaign ahead of the March launch. This campaign will run from 17 January to 27 February. After launch on the 1st March, the ASA will release a follow-up advertising campaign focussed on informing the B2C audience of the changes. The adverts will be screened on radio, TV, cinema, outdoor, online and print.
The challenge ahead
The new regulations will bring a greater level of transparency and assurance for users of the internet. However, the task of monitoring and regulating content online, including those on third party websites such as Twitter and Facebook, is incredible. This is because nobody knows for sure how many websites exist in the UK, however we can safely assume it runs into the millions.
The ASA face a huge challenge to investigate all the complaints it receives from consumers, yet with increasing numbers turning to the web for their every day needs, it’s surely a benefit for all that online promotion is now regulated.