From 1st March 2011, the Advertising Standards Agency will be keeping a watchful eye on more than just online adverts; its remit is being extended to include content hosted by companies, for instance, on their own websites. Banner ads and search terms are already included under existing non-broadcast ASA guidelines – the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code – but the new rules will encompass a far wider spectrum of content including, in some cases, user generated content, whilst excluding press releases, PR material, classified ads and editorial material.
The full ASA press release highlights the substantial increase in ground that the ASA now covers, and it is important for all businesses who advertise online to read the new guidelines to ensure full compliance from next spring. Websites as well as social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are included, meaning that businesses will need to adopt social media policies in-house as well as be aware of the extended Code.
The vast majority of advertisers do adhere to the advertising guidelines which, whilst seemingly complicated, are there to protect consumers; however, the extensions will mean that many in internet advertising (who have not necessarily needed to conform as rigorously as the broadcast industry to date) will now need to be more than aware of the restrictions and requirements.