Advertisers ‘need to be wary’ under new online regulations

2 Sep 2010

UK watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has extended its powers to cover all online marketing and advertising from 1 March 2011. This will give it the power to remove advertisements and statements from Faceook, Twitter and Pay-per-click (PPC) ads on all search engines.

“The new regulations also give the ASA the ability to position ads in the place of those of a malicious advertiser,” said Paul Byrne, senior account manager for PCC at search and social marketing agency Greenlight.

Byrne points out that, from March 2011, advertisers will “need to be wary” when describing competitors, bidding on competitor keywords or trying risqué copy to attract a customer.

He states the extra funding for this scheme has come from Google, which reportedly contributed £200,000 to it.

Monitoring content posted online

Byrne believes social media is not as regulated as other advertising mediums, due to how new it is, but still advises advertisers to take care communicating their message when using Twitter or Facebook.

Business will be held responsible for offensive content posted on these social networking sites and Bryne emphasises the need for more rigorous measures to keep track of this content.

“There have been several examples where employees have been known to send malicious or foul language tweets under their companies’ official listing,” said Byrne.

“Under the new regulations, these firms would most likely face complaints and possibly fines from the ASA.”

Site owners who host ads from the Google Display Network or other ad networks could make them liable for hosting misleading or malicious ads.

“Although the change in regulations does throw up a number of questions, it could possibly help popular brands who are victims of companies selling illegal copies of their products through PPC or other online channels,” said Byrne.

“If the ASA focuses more on products-based advertisers rather than content, they potentially could remove advertisers who drive up the cost of branding online, damage the perception of a client’s brand through cheap copies and irrelevant content, and make PPC, in particular, a less competitive space on certain keywords.”

Byrne emphasises that the ASA’s new regulations will require advertisers to be more watchful of their content.

He also points out that it will give them a chance to work with a regulated advertising body, which may help protect their brands online.