The Report highlights the work ASA / CAP are undertaking to respond to consumer and societal concerns around advertising. In summary, last year they took steps to:
Understand societies’ concerns about ads – conducted research into the public’s experience of ‘copycat websites.’ After identifying the extent and ways in which these non-official services can mislead, and working in tandem with Government Digital Services and search engines, they carried out sector wide-enforcement work and updated our guidance to advertisers to tackle problems in this sector.
Support advertisers – CAP published new guidance for advertisers and vloggers to help them make it clear to consumers when they are advertising on social media. Working with industry, CAP also produced new guidance to tackle misleading property prices and developed its first eLearning module on alcohol advertising
Have more impact – introduced new Prioritisation Principles so that we have more time to tackle the ads that cause most harm to consumers and the vulnerable
Be more proactive – consulted on and introduced new rules for e-cigarette advertising. And commissioned a comprehensive independent review of online food and drink marketing to children to ensure the rules are in the right place
Raise awareness – created a national advertising campaign, which we launched in January 2015, so people feel confident in the knowledge that if they spot an ad that they think is misleading, harmful or offensive, we’re here to put it right
Achieving the ASA /CAP aim means doing things differently and looking at new ways of working for the benefit of consumers and business for instance: through a more project-based approach, initiating reviews into a number of sensitive areas, such as payday loans, and improving and better targeting our advice and training so every business has access to the information and support it needs.
It also means responding to and ensuring we keep pace with the rapidly changing media landscape, such as our ongoing work with vloggers. The importance of which is underlined by the fact that the internet overtook television for the first time ever as the most complained about medium with 13,477 complaints about 10,202 ads, an increase of 35% from 2013.
The ASA / CAP work resulted in 3,384 ads being changed or withdrawn and a record 1,599 compliances cases resolved. They received 37,073 complaints about 17,002 ads in total. Continuing to help advertisers get their ads right, CAP delivered training and advice on 194,200 occasions - an increase of 21%.
Chairman of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith said: “We’ve been putting some serious thought into how we go about working as effectively as possible, with the interests of the consumer in mind. As part of that, we want to put a stronger focus on those cases where there is the greatest potential detriment or harm. By having more impact and being more proactive we can help provide a responsible framework for advertisers to continue to engage creatively with their customers.”