Technology evolves constantly, with new media types and platforms being continually developed. For Marketers, this offers never-ending opportunities to share your content in new ways.
Reaching and engaging your target audience is an ongoing challenge. The internet is a crazily busy place; your content jostles for attention with competing messages from your competitors.
Any new platforms that help you to sail into unchartered waters are therefore a bonus. Being able to access untapped markets via new channels offers an unparalleled opportunity for Marketing teams.
But what rules do you need to follow when you start marketing via new channels? Do innovative platforms mean new obligations? How does advertising compliance differ across different media?
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority wrote a blog designed to set the record straight on rules for new advertising platforms.
Who is the ASA?
These rules apply to all firms, including those not governed by any other regulator. Our blog on how to avoid producing misleading adverts has advice on how to comply with them.
What are the rules when advertising on new platforms?
The CAP Code is largely ‘media-neutral’. This means that the same rules can apply if you advertise on a new platform, even if the approach is different to conventional ad space.
What does this mean in practice? It means that the rules do not need to be rewritten whenever a new type of advertising emerges.
Provided an ad falls within the broad categories of communication outlined in CAP’s ‘Scope of Code’, it will need to follow the rules, irrespective of the type of advertising.
This includes, for example, ads appearing:
- On a social media platform such as Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram or Facebook
- In print
- In a VR experience
- Spoken aloud by a voice assistant
Adverts on any platform need to be ‘obviously recognisable as an ad’, must not ‘mislead consumers materially’, must not ‘cause harm or serious or widespread offence’, and need to comply with any sector-specific Code rules that apply (e.g. for food or gambling products).
How does the ASA regulate ads?
Whether or not a promotion is an ad regulated by the ASA is outlined in the Scope of the Code section on its website. When the ASA assesses whether an ad falls within its remit, it bases its judgement on the principles set out in the code, regardless of platform or advert type.
Moreover, the CAP Codes apply from the moment an ad goes public. There is no grace period with any new platform or channel; your ads need to comply from the minute they appear.
As the ASA says, ‘it doesn’t matter if an ad is the first of its kind, and appears on a platform the ASA hasn’t previously investigated – the ASA can still rule that the advertisers have breached the Code’.
So, you need to ensure any ad, on any platform, traditional or new, meets the obligations set out by CAP and enforced by the ASA.
What else do regulated Marketers need to consider?
Of course, if you work in a regulated sector, the ASA/CAP rules aren’t the only ones you need to worry about.
If you’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, it’s vital that you understand and comply with its financial promotions rules.
Within this, some areas have more prescriptive requirements – advertising for claims management companies, for example.
Ensuring you keep pace with regulatory demands for advertising in your sector is essential. The regulator has the power to ban your promotions if they don’t meet its requirements, so the stakes are high.
Ensure your adverts comply with regulatory requirements
Whatever platform you advertise on, and whether or not you are governed by an industry-specific regulator, you need to ensure you meet your obligations with regard to the ASA and CAP.
If you want a refresher on how to ensure your ads are compliant, you can download a copy of our whitepaper, Compliance for non-regulated businesses. It explores the rules that every firm needs to follow, no matter what sector they are in, and you can download a free copy from our resource library.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.