Since March 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority has been responsible for advertising and marketing online. All marketing and ads on your website must now meet the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code). This means what you say online has to be “legal, decent, honest and truthful.”
That might seem like a common sense approach to advertising on your website, but prior to March 2011, despite frequent complaints from consumers about online advertising, the ASA was powerless to regulate this. However, as stated on the ASA website, their remit now includes:
- “Advertisers’ own marketing messages on their own websites
- Marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under the advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter
- Marketing communications on all UK websites, regardless of sector, type of businesses or size of organisation. “
Does Your Website Meet the Required ASA Standard?
Examples of cases of failure to meet the required standards include (but this is in no way exhaustive):
- Displaying false reviews or testimonials – the ASA could ask you to verify the authenticity of any such material.
- Displaying inaccurate or false pricing information.
- Displaying anything untrue about your products or services.
How Would the ASA Know About Your Advertising?
Complaints! The ASA receives plenty of them and it might only take one single complaint to initiate an investigation.
What if Someone Makes a Complaint to the ASA About Your Site?
- The ASA will assess whether or not your advertising is compliant. If not, you will be asked to remove/modify the advertising.
- The ASA states that it prefers to resolve complaints informally. Essentially, this means that in some cases the problems can be solved without the need for a formal investigation or any public adjudication.
- If you believe the complaint to be unfounded or you do not resolve the matter informally, it’s likely that the complaint will proceed to a formal investigation by the ASA Council.
- Formal adjudications are published on the ASA website here.
- Failure to comply several times could result in your being listed as a non-compliant online advertiser
An ORM Nightmare
Your advertising should be honest anyway. Aside from any advertising standards, there’s common sense and decent business practice to consider as well. But for the sites that do fail to comply, it can have a dire impact on online reputation.
Take ‘Betting Scalper,’ a company listed on the non-compliant online advertiser list.
A quick Google search for their brand term shows that ASA listing third – not a great introduction to the brand for anyone searching the brand, is it?