A record 36,491 ads were withdrawn or amended by the ASA or CAP in 2020 – a threefold increase on the year before. We look at why your ad might get caught by the censors and what you need to do to sort it.
There are a few reasons why more and more ads are being caught by standards agencies. For a start, the technology used to monitor online advertising is continually improving, so as a result, more problematic ads that would perhaps slip through the net are being picked up. However, more people are also getting used to online advertising, so public complaints and reporting are also on the up.
With the rise of influencer marketing as well, the boundaries between ads and other content are becoming more and more blurred, which is something the ASA is keen to prevent. Therefore, they’re keeping a close eye on the influencer landscape to make sure nothing untoward is going on.
If you get contacted by the ASA or your ad’s taken down by the advertising platform, the first port of call is to check that your ad is clearly marked as such. If you’re advertising through a social network, this should be fairly obvious anyway – however, if you’re partnering with another brand, you’ll need to make that clear in your ad settings.
If you’ve embarked on a campaign with an influencer, they’ll need to make sure they’ve marked the post as a paid partnership with your brand, using appropriate hashtags and settings where applicable.
If it’s not as simple as labelling, then think about the content of the ad. Is there anything misleading within it, or are you talking about anything potentially controversial?
If your ad falls into a restricted category – for example, dating, alcohol, gambling, or even political issues – then you need to ensure you’ve marked it as such. If you haven’t, it’s likely to be flagged and taken down.
Also, make sure you’re upholding your end of the bargain – as an example, if you’re advertising a giveaway but you don’t actually produce the prize at the end of it, you’re likely to get slapped with a takedown.
Generally, if your ad’s been taken down, you’ll be told why – so it should be reasonably easy to sort out. If the ASA has been in touch with you, they’ll work with you to help you understand what code you’ve breached and how not to do it again.
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