Investigation into the supplier pathway of irresponsible ads online

Mar 5th '24

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched two groundbreaking projects aimed at better understanding where responsibility lies for inappropriately targeted and irresponsible ads that appear online. This work forms part of the ASA strategy commitment to protect vulnerable audiences, including children, and to bring greater transparency and broader accountability to online advertising regulation.


The projects involve looking in depth at the supplier pathway of online ads that are found to have breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code.


One project uses innovative technology to monitor for ads for age-restricted products, including alcohol, gambling and foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS), on sites of particular interest to under-18s. There are strict rules in place that prevent these ads from being directed at children (those aged 15 and under) and young people (those aged 16 and 17) through the selection of media or the context in which the ads appear.


Another project will use the same approach to monitor for seriously offensive and potentially harmful ads, which the ASA know to have appeared in mobile quiz and game apps.  This is the first time the ASA has undertaken tech-assisted monitoring in that media. They’ve previously investigated a number of in-app ads, which condone or encourage sexual violence to women and girls. Such ads are not acceptable in any media environment.


Using monitoring findings, ASA  will undertake a number of in-depth case studies seeking to identify the parties involved in the supplier pathway of these non-compliant ads, assessing the part played by the advertiser, the publisher and the intermediary companies that sit between them. The ASA will seek their input to better understand how the ads came to appear, publishing findings and assessments to help deliver strategic commitments.


This work builds on the ASA innovative approach to online regulation taken in recent years through Tech4Good series of projects, including: CCTV-style monitoring looking at Protecting children online; avatar-based monitoring focusing on HFSS ads appearing around children’s media and innovative, panel-based monitoring employed as part of the 100 Children Report.


The report of the outcome of these projects will come later this year.


Source: ASA


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