Online Ad Complaints Overtake TV
A record number of ads were amended or withdrawn in 2017, with the internet overtaking TV as the most complained about medium.
Last year the UK’s ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), received 27,138 complaints about 19,398 ads, up 14% year on year – 73% of which concerned potentially misleading ads.
A total of 10,932 complaints were made about 9,951 online ads, while 9,466 complaints were made about 4,666 TV ads, resulting in 7,099 ads either being amended or withdrawn – 47% more than in 2016.
But the ASA’s chief executive Guy Parker says there are “too many factors” at play to draw a correlation between the number of complaints made to the ASA and the state or standard of advertising in the UK, including the fact that people are simply spending more time online.
“One of our objectives is to raise awareness of the ASA system because we know that correlates to people having a bit more faith in advertising, so from a brand perspective it’s a good thing for the ASA to be more well-known. But of course one of the consequences is that it involves more people complaining,” Parker tells Marketing Week.
“So an increase in the number of complaints to the ASA is a function of our wider awareness, not worse standards. But all sorts of other things can have an impact on whether people complain, seemingly unrelated or only peripherally-related issues or events like Cambridge Analytica, concerns about privacy and so on.”
In 2017, the top 10 regulatory interventions included ensuring alcohol ads are targeted responsibly online – especially on social media platforms where many users are under 18, which landed Diageo in trouble in 2016; acting against irresponsible gambling advertising; new food advertising restrictions for products which are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS); and addressing harmful gender stereotypes, for which a detailed report is due in the coming weeks.