The Advertising Standards Authority has reaffirmed a pledge to use emerging technologies to tackle deceptive or unethical advertising as the self-regulatory body releases the new online surveillance sweep findings.
To recognize and address age-restricted ads that appear in children’s media; over a three-month span, the ASA found that 159 age-restricted ads violated advertising laws, 70 of which were betting advertisements.
In total, it was found that 35 advertisers put age-restricted advertising on 34 websites and five YouTube channels targeted at or targeting a disproportionately large audience of children.
The aforementioned beaches in the gambling sector have been recorded as coming from four unnamed operators, breaking down the figures across five product categories, and appearing on eight websites.
In 24 web pages and five YouTube channels, advertisements for food and soft drinks categorized as high in fat, salt or sugar have been identified as the most prevalent with 78 different ads from 29 advertisers.
Nonetheless, the watchdog acknowledged that “while HFSS ads should be targeted away from children and children’s media, the ASA’s monitoring picked up on a broad diversity of HFSS ads which broke the rules, with the majority being unlikely to appeal to children”.
In comparison, ten alcohol ads from one brand appeared on one website, one e-cigarette ad also appeared on one website, and zero violations related to items for slimming and weight management.
The ASA said it took a “CCTV-style watch” in the first phase of a year-long project and found 49 websites and seven YouTube channels using data collated media analysis tools from Nielsen.
The group will perform this monitoring exercise for the next twelve months on a quarterly basis and has promised to take action against any repeat offenders reported as seeking to create “a zero-tolerance culture to age-restricted ads in children’s media”.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker explained: “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.
“We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly. This is just one part of a wider set of initiatives we’re undertaking to ensure children are protected online and we’ll report on our further work in this area in the coming months.”