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Debbie Heywood

Senior Professional Support Lawyer

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Autor

Debbie Heywood

Senior Professional Support Lawyer

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14. Dezember 2020

Radar - December 2020 – 7 von 8 Insights

Online advertising regulation in the UK – 2020 roundup

2020 has seen a lot of work around regulating advertising to children and other vulnerable people, particularly during the pandemic, as well as on transparency of advertising sources. For more on issues around adtech, see our Data Privacy section. For more on advertising and marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic, see our Download articles.

UK Government activity

Call for evidence on regulating online advertising

In February, the government issued a call for evidence on regulating online advertising. This is intended to supplement work by the CMA, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and the ICO. The questions relate mainly to the effectiveness of the current self-regulatory framework and its ability to deal with harmful advertising, consumer protection and preventing exploitation of vulnerability through targeted advertising. The review excludes political advertising and the advertising of alcohol and gambling.

DCMS-commissioned report on online advertising issues

The DCMS published a report it commissioned from Plum Consulting to look at online advertising issues and self-regulatory initiatives in July. The report identified a number of gaps in the current system of self-regulation by the ASA's enforcement of the CAP Code.

Proposals to make political advertisements more transparent

The government is proposing measures to require political parties and campaigners to show who they are when promoting campaign content online with a digital imprint.

Government consultation on banning ads promoting food high in fat, sugar and salt

In November, the government launched a consultation on proposals to ban online adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt, in order to help the UK tackle the obesity crisis. These types of ad are already restricted on TV before 9pm but a total ban is now recommended.

ASA, CAP and CMA activity

Gender stereotyping adverts

In June 2019, new rules requiring adverts not to include gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence came into force. A few adverts have fallen foul of the new rules IN 2020, including:

  • An ad for PCSpecialist featuring three men performing different computing activities. PCSpecialist said that 87.5% of its customer base were male between the ages of 15 and 35 so the ad accurately represented its customer base. The ASA found that the ad enforced harmful gender stereotypes as it strongly implied only men could excel in the specialisms and roles depicted.
  • A PeoplePerHour ad appearing in the London Underground. The advert featured an image of a woman with a strapline which said "You do the girl boss thing. We'll do the SEO thing". The ad was found to reinforce the harmful gender stereotypes that men were better suited than women to positions of authority in business and that women needed help with IT matters.

In both cases, the adverts may no longer appear.

The ASA is perceived to have been quite strict in its approach to the new rules but both these adverts were the subject of a number of complaints.

Fake online reviews

The CMA announced that Facebook and eBay have taken steps to tackle fake and misleading reviews in response to the CMA's concerns. In addition to signing up to agreements to better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading adverts, Facebook has removed 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts and eBay has banned 140 users. Both organisations have agreed to put measures in place to prevent this type of content re-appearing, focusing on robust systems and improved filters.

ASA and CMA updated guidance on influencer and affiliate advertising

In February, the ASA and CMA updated their Influencer's guide to making clear that ads are ads. The updated guidance includes changes made as a result of feedback on the earlier version and which follow from the ASA's research in this area. The guidance confirms that the CMA can take action against any influencer advertising for which payment is received and the ASA can also take action where, in addition, a brand has exercised editorial control over what the influencer publishes. In September, the ASA upheld its first complaint relating to a lack of transparency of advertising on a TikTok video by an influencer.

CAP response to call for evidence on children's recognition of online ads

CAP published a response to its call for evidence launched in October 2019 on children's ability to recognise online adverts such as vlogs, advergames and product placement. There were only seven responses in total which did not suggest CAP needed to take further action. Although CAP is not proposing changes to its current guidance given the small number of responses, it will continue to monitor the situation and says the guidance may need updating in future. It will continue to monitor compliance and be more proactive on testing of adherence to the guidance in key sectors including video games, toys, entertainment, food and soft drinks.

CAP updated guidance on qualifications to claims made in adverts

In November, CAP updated its guidance on the use of qualifications in non-broadcast adverts. The revised guidance includes a 'qualifying ladder' tool to help advertisers. The ladder sets out four levels of prominence – headline, sub-heading, body copy and footnote. The more important the qualifier, the higher up the ladder it should sit. The revised guidance also covers when qualifications should be used, how they should be presented, and the relevance of the nature of the media they are contained in.

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