Broadband speeds in marketing communications

Nov 15th '18

Feeling the need for (broadband) speed?

It’s been 32 years since the film “Top Gun” was released at the cinema but six months ago, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) issued guidance on how to promote broadband speeds in marketing communications.  In this article, the CAP get you up to speed on this topic, looking at what claims you can make and how to substantiate them.

What speed should I use in my advertising?

Speed claims should be based on the actual experience of users and you should be able to demonstrate that that speed can be achieved by at least 50% of your customer base during peak time, defined by Ofcom as between 8pm and 10pm. This principle applies even when a speed claim appears in the product name.

When will I need to qualify my speed claims?

If there are factors which mean some consumers will receive speeds significantly below that advertised, those factors needs to be stated in the ad.  You can include those factors in your qualification, which should:

  • Be prominent, appearing in the main body of the ad;
  • Make clear the likely effect of the relevant factor on consumers’ ability to achieve the advertised speed; and
  • Explain technical terms, unless those terms are widely understood by consumers or clearly explained in the ad.

What substantiation should I hold?

  • For speed testing, use methods based on relevant industry standards and data appropriate to the claim made in the ad.
  • General speed claims should be based on activities that are representative of activities that users generally perform.
  • You should also demonstrate that the lines chosen for testing are not unrepresentative.
  • The Advertising Standards Authority will accept data that you’ve gathered and processed, or by an independent body on your behalf.
  • Where ISPs have a large customer base, you can use an appropriate sample (which must be statistically robust) and apply statistical methods to make it representative of the actual performance of your service.
  • Your data should account for all the relevant factors which cause a reduction or variation in speed experienced by your customers.
  • The acceptability of testing based on a sample performance will depend on the context of the claim, for example, national campaigns should be based on data from your whole customer base.

Source: CAP

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