The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority may soon gain control over advertisements that appear on social networking sites in the country. A proposed amendment to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, which could come into effect as early as September, would mean that the ASA will have the power to scrutinize the activities of marketers using social networks to promote their goods and services.
The code is ostensibly aimed at ensuring honesty and fairness in advertising, but it also aims to uphold UK laws as they relate to advertising alcohol, health products, and online gambling in the UK. Until recently, social networking sites have been open forums for marketers, but the new rules could see such sites change dramatically over the next few years.
The ASA reports that two-thirds of the complaints it receives about inappropriate or misleading advertisements target media that are beyond their control. The new code that would let the watchdog group monitor social networking sites could help close this gap.
Interestingly, Google has agreed to donate money to help kick-start the program, which is expected to be quite expensive. The ASA is already gearing up by hiring new staff and creating the necessary internal structures.
UK gambling laws are very strict about how and where internet gambling can be advertised. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) laid out strict guidelines for gambling adverts back in August 2007, after which around 1,000 advertisements were removed for violating the new laws. Earlier this year the ASA pulled an online ad campaign for a UK internet gambling site because it was considered to be too contentious. Should the new code come into effect this autumn as the ASA hopes, it is certain that the group will have its hands full banning even more online gambling advertisements.