Proposal would extend Advertising Standards Agency role to include marketing activity on social media and microsites
Tighter controls on the how Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles are used in company promotions are set to be introduced under new digital advertising restrictions partly designed to protect children.
The Advertising Association, the industry body which represents the UK advertising and media industry, has agreed a set of proposals to tighten some digital advertising practices so that they are policed by the Advertising Standards Authority in the same way as TV, press, poster and radio ads.
The ASA regulates all paid-for digital advertising, such as banners and display ads on websites, but so far does not police advertising activity on a company’s own website, a campaign microsite or the via profiles on sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
“The industry has delivered a clear mandate that first and foremost will protect consumers and children [and] that will also protect editorial content,” said Rae Burdon, chief operating officer at the AA.
The recommendations still have to be accepted by the Committee for Advertising Practice, which is overhauling the non-broadcasting advertising code and will launch a consultation on the proposals. But with such broad industry consensus, it is thought that the new rules will come into force in the third quarter this year.
“This is a significant step for both advertising and the internet,” said Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau, a key player in the year-long negotiations to agree the new proposals.
The extension to the ad code will ensure that all online marketing will have to be responsible, legal, honest and truthful under the same regulations as, say, press and poster ads.
The process to develop the new codes stalled last year when it emerged that Google was balking at being involved in the necessary extension of the funding and industry levy collection mechanism of the ASA. A deal was reached with Google and the search engine industry in November.