Recently released figures from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reveal that it banned or requested alterations to over 5,000 adverts last year, a new record for the UK regulator.
The ASA is is the UK’s independent advertising regulator. It makes sure that adverts across UK media stick to the Advertising Codes set out by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the sister organisation of the ASA.
The ASA tackles all advertisers equally – big names such as Kellogg’s and Heinz were among those which had adverts banned by the watchdog last year. Other well-known brands such as Audi and Gucci were among those to be reprimanded, with the ASA requesting alterations to some of the adverts.
In total, the watchdog received 28,521 complaints in 2016, relating to just under 16,000 adverts. Of those complaints, 97% were from members of the public and 72% concerned potentially misleading adverts.
The ASA took action against 4,824 of the complaints received in 2016. This was around a 5% increase in action taken compared with the previous year, with the ASA noting that a large number of the complaints concerned adverts on the companies’ own websites, YouTube and other social media platforms.
Last year marked the fifth anniversary since the introduction of new CAP codes which extended the Advertising Codes to cover advertiser-owned content. In those five years, the ASA states it has resolved over 41,000 complaints, with just over 36,500 of those being in relation to brand-hosted adverts.
The ASA’s chief executive, Guy Parker, noted that despite changes in technology the one thing which remains constant for consumers is that “we expect to be able to trust every ad we see or hear”. He noted that the ASA is having to change and adapt to these technological changes to tackle advertisers who do not respect the rules.
Indeed, it certainly seems that the challenge of staying up-to-speed with the times is going to be the greatest challenge for the watchdog in the years to come. It will be interesting to see what measures and action they take in this regard.
Further information on the ASA and the CAP can be found here.