After the watchdog released the findings of its ‘second online marketing sweep’, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced a dramatic increase in gambling-related ads being restricted to underage audiences.
Continuing its year-long project, the ASA noted that during the three-month stretch between July and September, inappropriately positioned online betting and gambling advertisements had reduced dramatically, from 70 ads in the first sweep to 5 ads in the second sweep.
The first sweep of ASA marked online gambling as the ‘biggest offender’ of under-age advertising violations, revealing that four operators broadcast 70 betting ads to young adults across eight websites.
The findings attracted backlash from the sector, which had reported much greater violations than alcohol and e-cigarettes.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) Industry Trade Body noted that gambling outcomes would dramatically change, with members agreeing to impose additional ‘proactive protections’ decided in May as part of the new ‘Action Plan’ of the BGC.
A breakdown of recent ASA results showed that on six websites with no breaches reported on YouTube channels, only five separate betting ads from three gambling operators appeared.
All BGC representatives decided in October to comply with the ‘Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’ terms. Both operators ensured that only audiences aged over 25 will be reached by social media promotions.
Furthermore all gambling-related material on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will require philtres for age verification as BGC members stressed a ‘zero-tolerance attitude to under-18s advertising’.
ASA would continue its campaign sweeps, in which the body reported that its issues had moved to the category ‘high in fat, salt or sugar’ (HFSS food), in which 35 marketers appearing on 27 websites and 4 YouTube channels discovered 102 ad violations.
Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, welcomed the development. He was said: “We’re encouraged to see advertisers, most notably in the gambling sector, taking steps to target their age-restricted online ads responsibly. We expect that trend to continue, particularly amongst HFSS advertisers, throughout the remainder of this project and beyond.
“We’ll continue working with advertisers and taking action where necessary to build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.”