Classified ads, which get their name from being grouped into categories or ‘classes’, are traditionally seen as the small ads that appear in the back pages of newspapers and magazines, or in dedicated publications, but can also include similar forms of advertising appearing online such as on websites like Gumtree, Shpock and Autotrader as well as retail platforms like Amazon and Ebay.
Ads from private individuals selling belongings they no longer need, be this in the ‘classifieds’ section of a newspaper or online on a platform like Ebay or Gumtree, are excluded from the scope of the Code. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code does, however, apply to commercial classified ads both online and offline, including advertising on third party retail platforms, where the goods are being sold by a ‘business seller’. This is true of both ‘buy now’ and auction-style listings on websites like Ebay and in all cases the seller is considered responsible for the content. Marketers should therefore take care not to attach their goods to existing listings that do not accurately reflect the product they will supply, or which they know or suspect to be misleading.
Marketers should also ensure that the platform is appropriate for the information they are required to convey. If the technical restrictions on a platform render an ad misleading, either through the presentation of the information or by making it impossible to include material information, it could be considered in breach of the Code.
Claims made by the publishers or platforms about the services they provide to advertisers, or indeed to consumers, are likely to be considered within remit (see ‘Remit: Own websites’).
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
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