UK’s agency that regulates the advertising industry, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has released its 2021 review and states that it received a total of 43,325 complaints connected to around 22,000 cases. In doing so, it doubled down on its tougher restrictions concerning ads in the gambling industry, through which operators won’t be able to use reality TV stars or popular sportsmen for advertising purposes.
Online Ads Were Connected to Half of the Complaints
Online advertisements proved to be the most troubling as the ASA reported that 20,735 complaints were connected to this section. They were also responsible for 14,558 cases, which is around two-thirds of the total number of cases.
Compared to 2020, the number of issues that are connected to online ads rose by 19%, however, case numbers remained level. Online ads were featured on official websites of companies, social media, and video on demand, but the section also includes influencer ads, searches, and games.
When it comes to television ads, the ASA and CAP reported that even though the number of complaints rose by 44% and reached 20,425, the number of cases in 2021 was 4,802, which is a 5% decrease compared to the previous year.
ASA also applauded the use of technology and stated that the use of AI is revolutionizing its monitoring capabilities and hence, it enables it to do a better job. According to the results, ASA is able to take note of dozens of high-risk influencers on a weekly basis and even analyzes around 20,000 Instagram stories on a monthly basis.
The chief executive of ASA, Guy Parker, commented on the use of technology and stated that thanks to its evolution, the ASA is able to regulate misleading and irresponsible ads.
Children’s Exposure to Gambling Ads Was Reduced
ASA’s report concluded that there were shifts in the TV viewing habits of children. The analysis of a decade’s worth of data showed that the medium exposure dropped from 17.6 hours to 6.9 hours in 2020. Additionally, the number of TV ads that children saw on a weekly basis dropped from 229.3 (2013) to 103.7 (2020).
Since 2013, children’s alcohol exposure dropped by two-thirds, whereas their exposure to gambling ads on TV reduced by a third.
This is when the ASA used the opportunity to elaborate on the tougher restrictions concerning gambling ads. It stated that they will be in effect on October 1, 2022, and with the new restrictions, operators won’t be able to use famous sports personalities and other celebrities to promote their brand.
Additionally, the new rules state that lottery and gambling ads mustn’t appeal to children or young people.
CAP’s director, Shahriar Coupal, shared some words on the new restrictions by noting that the days when operators used celebrities and influential sportspeople to make themselves appealing to under-18s are numbered. Coupal also added that the latest restrictions “invite a new era for gambling ads,” one that is particular to the adult audience rather than the youth.