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ASA's online remit extends to cover all websites. Is your company website ready?

From 1st March 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) online remit will be extended to cover marketing communications on organisations' own websites and in other non-paid-for space under their control. The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) will apply in full to marketing messages online. From the start of March, the ASA will be able to police any statement on a company's website which could be interpreted as marketing, even if it is not a paid-for advert.

New powers

In a recent ruling, the ASA decided that a regional television advert for the Metrocentre on Tyneside breached the advertising code. The Gateshead shopping centre had claimed that it was "the best shopping centre in Britain". The ASA said that claim was based on a three-year-old survey, which was misleading. However, the Metrocentre's website shows that they are still claiming to be the best in the country. That is acceptable within the current rules, but not after 1 March.

"I think anyone with a website needs to have a fresh look at it, and say 'am I totally happy about that?' " said Ian Twinn of ISBA, the industry body which represents British advertisers.

This significant development in advertising regulation will cover:

  • Advertisers' own marketing messages on their own websites, regardless of sector, type of businesses or size of organisation
  • Marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under the advertiser's control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Please contact us for further information about how we can help review your website to ensure it is compliant.