Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is getting new powers on March 1, 2011, to hold sway over anything “directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods or services”. The standards by which these will be judged remain the same under the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, but the ASA will be applying them to pop-ups, banners, paid search, emails and virals, as well as content on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
While acknowledging to MarketingWeek that “anything that protects the public must be a good thing,” Paddy Power’s Adam Perrin noted that the web is a very different beast from traditional offline advertsing. What worries Perrin is the responsibilities companies will bear from their relationships with third-party websites, such as affiliates, who make offers to customers on behalf of the companies. “We work with hundreds of websites, offering a variety of betting incentives, money-back specials and exclusive odds, so the challenge for us will be to police it all effectively.”
Others believe the policing challenge will be the ASA’s, particularly in attempting to monitor the volume of traffic generated via social media sites. The ease with which sites can alter page content or make pages vanish altogether will make proving violations of the CAP Code that much more challenging.
The ASA has not been shy about rapping the knuckles of the online gaming industry, as evidenced by their experiences with Bet365, William Hill, Prime Scratchcards, GameAccount, Tombola and others. That said, they didn’t have a problem with Paddy Power’s cat-kickers, so who’s to say what March 1 will bring.