Marketing messages on social networking sites and advertisers' own websites are to be regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority from next year in an extension of the ASA's digital remit announced today.
From March 1 2011, online marketing communications that fall within the extended remit - even where they appear in non-paid for space such as a brand's own website - will be covered by the CAP Code, the framework of rules relating to misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children. At present, the Code only applies to ads in paid-for space and sales promotions.
The ASA's new remit is focused on ‘selling' messages. It does not include editorial content.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the body responsible for writing the CAP Code, decided to extend the ASA's digital remit in response to a formal recommendation from a wide cross-section of UK industry.
The PPA has been heavily involved in the long-running negotiations - and helped secure (along with newspaper bodies NS and NPA) added protection for PPA members (as they subscribe to the Editors' Code, administered by the Press Complaints Commission). This is to protect against the danger of editorial being caught by the extended ASA remit, made more likely by the removal of a requirement for marketing material to have been paid for in order to fall within the ASA remit.
James Evans, head of legal at the PPA, said: "We welcome the extension of the ASA's digital remit, having worked hard with the rest of the advertising industry to ensure the extended remit delivers a high level of consumer protection. PPA has been concerned throughout the discussions leading to today's (1 September) announcement that the extended digital advertising remit does not encroach into online editorial. As such, PPA and newspaper representatives have secured additional protection for magazines and newspapers."
The new remit will come into force on March 1, 2011 after a six month period of grace to allow the ASA and CAP to conduct training work to raise awareness and educate business on the requirements of the CAP Code, particularly among those not previously subject to ASA regulation. The extended ASA digital remit will cover:
"Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities."
Website owners and marketing agencies are urged to sign up to CAP services at www.cap.org.uk to receive guidance and training to ensure their sites comply prior to the implementation date.
PPA will be producing a member briefing on the extension of the ASA's digital remit, which will be available via the weekly Update member email.
If you have any further questions, please contact James Evans by email or on 0207 400 7504.