Why you need to know about the changes to Website Regulation

From the 1st of March 2011, marketing communication on websites will be regulated by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), the UK’s independent regulator of advertising.

According to the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice), the ASA’s online remit has been extended to cover communication on organisations’ own websites (“regardless of sector, type of businesses or size of organisation”) as well as other non-paid-for space (such as profiles on Social Networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) under their control. User-generated content will, however, fall within the remit if it is adopted and incorporated in any marketing materials.

What does this apply to?

Advertisements and other marketing communications that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities.

In practice, “directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods” could relate to a page on a site which markets a product which is available for sale. To comply, organisations must take care to ensure that the price matches that of the product depicted, and availability and delivery claims are correct.

“Directly connected with supply of service” is in relation to any statement made about the service, therefore claims such as “The fastest…” etc. will now be subject to these regulations.

Explicitly excluded, according to CAP, are the following types of communication:

– Press releases and other public relations material

– Editorial content

– Political advertisements

– Corporate reports

– Natural listings on search engine or price comparison site

– “Heritage” advertising where the advertising is not part of the advertiser’s current promotional strategy and is placed in an appropriate context

The purpose of these new regulations is to ensure that all advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful whenever they appear.

For full details on the ASA’s online remit, please visit: http://www.asa.org.uk/Regulation-Explained/Online-remit.aspx or call us today on 01392 667766.

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