Balance of advertising self-regulation in Spain

Mar 17th '22

Balance of advertising self-regulation in Spain in 2021: The advertising industry requested a review of 45,281 ads prior to their broadcast.


  • More than half of the ads reviewed correspond to digital media, 56%.
  • AUTOCONTROL’s Cookie Advice® service, which helps comply with cookie regulations, grew by 29% in 2021.
  • The Telecommunications Data Protection Mediation Unit has attended to 4,316 queries, 69% more than in 2020.
  • The number of claims received by the Advertising Jury decreased: 90.8% of them were filed by consumers (individuals and associations).
  • 67 new entities have joined AUTOCONTROL in 2022.


The activity data from AUTOCONTROL, the Spanish agency for advertising self-regulation, shows that the advertising sector continues to bet on advertising self-regulation as a mechanism to ensure the ethics and legality of its commercial communications.


  • Prior advice:

During the past year, 45,281 ad projects submitted by advertisers, agencies and the media were reviewed, which represents a growth of 3.2% in the number of ad projects reviewed by AUTOCONTROL, before their broadcast, to verify their suitability for legal and ethical regulations . Added to these campaign reviews (Copy Advice®) are the more than 6,300 legal and ethical queries handled in advertising matters.


These data confirm the good health of advertising self-regulation in our country , maintaining the growth trend of prior advice activity registered in previous years.


A positive report was issued in 65.8% of ad review requests ; in 33.6% it was recommended that some modification be made before the advertisement was broadcast; and in 0.6% of the reports (258 cases) it was necessary to advise against the dissemination of the submitted announcement project, because it did not comply with the applicable regulations.


By sectors , banking entity advertising remains the sector with the highest number of requests for review of ad projects in 2021, with 26,747 Copy Advice® requests, which represents 59.1% of the total requests received in 2021 .


For its part, the sector that has experienced the greatest growth in 2021 has been that of the advertising of medicines that do not require a prescription, with an increase of 21.25% in the number of requests received in 2021, in relation to the previous year.


The greatest growth in prior advice activity by media corresponds to digital media, with a total of 25,420 Copy Advice® requests in 2021 (representing 56.13% of the total Copy Advice® received in 2021). The second place in number of review requests, 23.9%, corresponds to television commercial projects (10,817 in 2021).


  • AUTOCONTROL data protection services continue to grow in 2021:

AUTOCONTROL ‘s Cookie Advice® service, which helps website managers comply with cookie regulations, grew by 29% in 2021.


In addition, during the last year more than 1,000 queries related to these services and theCode of Conduct on data protection in advertising activity have been attended to . The Code of Conduct (approved in November 2020) was the first code of conduct approved by the Spanish data protection authority under the General Data Protection Regulation.


On the other hand, the Mediation Unit , which manages the data protection claims system in which the main telecommunications companies in our country participate, has also registered a notable increase in the number of queries received in 2021, which They have gone from 2,558 in 2020 to 4,316 last year, 69% more .This system, managed by AUTOCONTROL, aims to resolve, free of charge and agilely, through mediation, consumer claims regarding data protection in the telecommunications sector related to advertising, such as receiving advertising not desired, identity theft or data processing for the receipt of invoices after having requested the cancellation of the service, among others. During 2021, 414 requests for mediation have been received and more than 70% of the complaints processed have been satisfactorily resolved within an average period of 20 days.


This AUTOCONTROL Mediation Unit is the result of the protocols signed in 2017 between AUTOCONTROL and the Spanish data protection authority, and in 2018 between AUTOCONTROL and the main Spanish telecommunications operators, so that the association can mediate with the operators that have adhered to the system (Movistar, Tuenti, O2, Orange, Jazztel, Amena, Simyo, Vodafone, Ono, Másmóvil, Yoigo, Lebara, Llamaya, Happy Móvil and Pepephone).


  • 2021 milestones:

Among the outstanding activities carried out by the Association in 2021 is the training campaign for consumers on advertising regulation launched by AUTOCONTROL and financed by the European Commission. Its objective was to offer consumers, free of charge and in an online format, basic notions on advertising regulation, data protection and privacy related to advertising activity and ADRs such as the Advertising Jury. It is also of great interest as a training tool for professionals in the sector. Since its launch in September 2021, there have been 2,629 downloads and views of this Course.


It should also be noted the entry into force, in January 2021, of the “Code on the use of Influencers in Advertising” of the Spanish Association of Advertisers (aea) and AUTOCONTROL , which has the recognition and support of the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, and Consumption. Within the framework of action of this Code, during its first year in operation , 18 cases of influencer advertising have been managed , 11 of them from individuals and 5 from consumer associations or citizen organisations. TheThe main reason for most of the cases presented refers to the lack of identification of the advertising nature of the message or the absence of an explicit, immediate and appropriate indication of the medium and message.


In addition, numerous activities have been developed to promote the use of this Code, among which are: the preparation of an infographic to explain in a simple and practical way how to identify advertising messages by influencers ; the dissemination of a model contractual clause by virtue of which the influencer undertakes to comply with the code in his contract with the brand ; as well as the celebration of a “Webinar on regulation and advertising self-regulation of the use of influencers in advertising” that had more than 400 attendees. All this work has favored that the 4,200 downloads of this code have been exceeded, only through Google.


Another example of the industry’s interest in responsible advertising can be seen in the successful reception of AUTOCONTROL’s training activities in 2021. Last year, nearly 2,000 professionals from the advertising sector attended the 17 seminars and webinars offered by AUTOCONTROL on regulation and advertising self-regulation.


  • A low number of claims remains:

Thanks in large part to the high number of advertising campaigns that are sent to AUTOCONTROL for review prior to their dissemination, in Spain there is low conflict in relation to advertising. Thus, the number of cases processed by the AUTOCONTROL Advertising Jury in recent years has remained stable with a range of between 200 and 300 claims per year in recent years.


In 2021, the Jury resolved 219 claims that were substantiated in 206 cases, which represents a decrease of 11.2%. Complaints from consumers and consumer associations represent 90.8% of the total complaints received. Of the rest, 7.25% were claims submitted by companies and 1.9% by Public Administrations. 66% of the complaints received corresponded to commercial communications broadcast on digital channels.


According to José Domingo Gómez Castallo, General Director of AUTOCONTROL, “advertising self-regulation has become a fundamental tool in the functioning of the advertising sector in Spain and Europe”. For José Domingo “Honesty is key in this market, society demands honest brands and companies and the companies in the sector that belong to AUTOCONTROL want partners that have the same high standards as them. Lack of ethics has long ceased to be an optionOur duty is to help companies with a sense of responsibility, to comply with the regulations applicable to advertising, mainly through the advisory tools offered by advertising self-regulation”.


  • Access to the  annex that includes the activity data for 2021.




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