Marketing messages on organisations’ own websites and non-paid-for material on social networks will soon fall under the authority of the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA has today announced a significant expansion of its remit under the UK Code of Non-broadcast Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing which, as of March 2011, will see the regulator’s rules apply to all marketing communication online.
All sectors and all organisations will be subject to the rules on misleading advertising, protection of children and the like which will apply to their own websites, marketing communication on free sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The announcement follows public lobbying in March by advertisers for the ASA to expand its remit, particularly to ensure protection of children online. Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) chairman Andrew Brown, however, said that the ASA had been intent on expanding its online remit "over the last couple of years".
Marketers which fall foul of the code in these spheres will be asked to take down their advertisements or the ASA will run online ads itself alerting the public to the non-compliance of the offender.
Google has come on board to help fund the new work initially, with a 0.1 per cent levy to apply on all search advertising in future to ensure the ASA can retain extra staff and deal with the anticipated increased in complaints.
ASA chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “This significant extension of the ASA’s remit has the protection of children and consumers at heart. We have received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about marketing communications on websites that we couldn’t deal with, but from 1 March anyone who has a concern about a marketing communication online will be able to turn to the ASA.”