UK Advertising in a Digital Age
The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has called for a comprehensive review of the legislative regime affecting the advertising industry.
The Lords highlighted the success of the UK as a global hub for advertising, but claimed that the industry is in “a state of flux” with the rapid growth of digital and programmatic advertising and the increased use of data by advertisers requiring significant reform to current industry practices and the legal framework in which advertisers operate.
The Lords made several wide-ranging recommendations to the Government including the following:
- Advertising fraud and misplacement and a lack of transparency through the chain (from advertiser through to publisher) diminish trust within the market and present serious problems for the industry; a failure to self-regulate will require the Government to propose legislation to regulate digital advertising to ensure that businesses are receiving fair value.
- Many advertisers fail to ensure that online advertising is clearly labelled as advertising. There is no standard way of doing so and therefore even those who comply with the rule are doing so inconsistently and consumers are generally uncertain as to how much of the content they see has been paid for. A universal mandatory logo is recommended to signify when online content had been paid for by a brand.
- Businesses continue to exploit user’s data without informed consent, which is a concern notwithstanding the imminent implementation of the GDPR, and this coupled with doubts about the ability of advertisers to transfer data to and from the EU in light of Brexit mean that the UK must ensure that it does not lose its influence in EU law-making in relation to data protection. To this end the Lords recommend the inclusion of the Information Commissioner’s Office on the European Data Protection Board.
- A review of the skills required by the digital economy to make sure that our education system reflects the needs of creative industries. This includes an introduction of subjects that blend arts and science in school, and ensuring that universities and the ad industry work together to create focused training and increase access to the sector.
ASA considers Influencer Marketing rules
With brands queuing up to engage reality TV stars and YouTube sensations to market their products for them, it isn’t always obvious to the consumer whether the content they are seeing is advertising designed to sell them specific products or whether it simply reflects the opinion of the person posting it.
In considering the case for new regulations in this space, the The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has called for evidence relating to the public’s understanding of the labels and identifiers used by advertisers online (e.g. #ad). The next stage will be the commissioning of research into what identifiers do and do not work, and whether further regulations are required.
ASA Consultation on junk food advertisements
The ASA has launched an inquiry to review the industry rules relating to the advertisements of so-called “junk food” in TV and non-broadcast media.
This follows the Committee of Advertising Practice’s (CAP) introduction of more stringent rules in 2017 regarding the marketing of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products in non-broadcast media, in efforts to combat obesity in children and young adults. These rules included a prohibition on HFSS advertising from appearing in media targeted at children and restrictions on the use of characters and celebrities popular with children in the promotion of HFSS products. You can find the 2017 rules here, along with associated guidance.
Similar regulations in respect of TV advertising were introduced in 2010, resulting in a reduction of children’s exposure to all food and soft drink ads on television by 40%, according to the ASA. Nevertheless, there has been growing pressure to introduce even tougher regulations. A particular concern is the broadcast of junk food adverts during popular family programming such as the X Factor, or during football matches. Indeed, the ASA has acknowledged calls from some organisations, including Cancer Research, for a 9pm watershed on HFSS advertising in broadcast media.
The announcement has been welcomed by the Food and Drink Federation who say they are committed to tackling childhood obesity. You can download the ASA’s submission to the Health Committee’s Inquiry on Obesity here.
GDPR deadline is approaching fast
With less than a month until the General Data Protection Regulation takes effect, advertising and marketing agencies across the UK are preparing for the arrival of the new rules.
Read our thoughts on how advertisers and their agencies may be affected by the new legislation here.
Recent work highlights
To see some of our recent Advertising, Marketing & Sponsorship work highlights please click here.
To discuss any requirements you may have or to discuss any of the topics covered in this eBulletin in further detail, please contact Michael Lister.