The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK announced today the findings of its online media monitoring sweep, seeking to tackle age-restricted ads in children’s media. ASA said that 4 gambling operators posted 70 different ads containing betting content over 8 websites predominantly used by youngsters.
Three-Month Monitoring Report
The UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media performed a sweep of websites and YouTube channels which have large children audiences over a period of 3 months and concluded that gambling operators were breaking the rules designed to protect children from gambling harm.
Despite that all 70 different ads being guilty of breaches to the Advertising Code, ASA refrained from naming the operators, stating that only cases of repeated breaches will trigger public shaming for gambling companies. Backing down from its promise for a policy of zero tolerance, the advertising watchdog would not take any action against the perpetrators, besides telling them to clean their act.
“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.”Guy Parker, Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Authority
ASA Reiterated Its Resolve to Deliver
ASA explained it is utilizing innovative monitoring technology, More Impact Online, to facilitate its 5-year strategy to better protect children from age-restricted ads. Besides for gambling-related ads, the websites and video channels dominated by children presence were also examined for breaches of rules over marketing of junk food, alcohol, e-cigarettes, tobacco, slimming and weight control products.
The press release by the UK media ads regulator outlined similar sweeps will be conducted on a three-month basis for the next 12 months, to pick-up instances of and take action where age-restricted ads are served to children audiences. ASA is adamant that repeat offenders will be publicly reported and their names shared with relevant industry groups.
In May, the media advertising watchdog reported the number of TV gambling advertisements seen by children in 2019 returned to levels observed in 2018. The report was released as part of its ongoing commitment to monitor the effectiveness of current restrictions with regards to children, as well as to provide protection for young and vulnerable people.