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Online advertising world to come under ASA jurisdiction

Jan 25, 2011
Online marketing communications are soon to fall under the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority and the regulators have released a cross-media campaign to ensure we know all about it.

The regulatory body will be making itself increasingly felt in the digital sphere from 1 March 2011, when its remit will officially expand to cover marketing on websites.

The new regulations could signal big changes - and rewrites for some webmasters - as they will mean all marketing communications on third-party space under their control (including Facebook and Twitter), not just the content hosted on their own site, will have to adhere to the rules set out in the CAP code.

To ensure no one is left unaware of the impending change, the ASA has launched a comprehensive cross-media ad campaign, and website owners will be expected to take note of the new regulations and what they can do to ensure their communications abide by them. According to the regulators, the campaign "calls on companies to ensure marketing communications on their websites are legal, decent, honest and truthful."

The change to the self-regulatory status quo is said to be an enhancement of the protections for web users - especially children and vulnerable users - already in place. The ASA hopes the extension of its remit will help create a level playing field, presumably one that forces people to play fair.

"This significant development in advertising regulation is good news for both consumer and business protection as it will ensure the same high standards as in other media," the body said.

However, many industry players are wondering how the ASA will force website owners to comply with new regulations. El Reg questioned the ASA over the punishment should a breach of the CAP code be discovered. The respected tech publication was told the regulators will "consider the application of appropriate sanctions" and that in extreme cases, it would consider drawing attention to the particular offender on its own site.

It seems things are all change for web content these days - not only must marketing communications follow regulations, but it looks like the old maxim 'all publicity is good publicity' may finally be proven false.


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