The Advertising Standards Authority, ASA, announced on the 1st September 2010 an extension of its regulatory remit, from March 2011, which will give the Regulator jurisdiction over all marketing communications on the Internet including those on corporate websites and social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as over advergames and user generated content.
This controversial move has been introduced without any public consultation, and includes new serious sanctions for advertisers. Exemptions to the new regulation include “heritage advertising”, ‘investor relations’, and marketing communications promoting “causes and ideas”. Nearly all other marketing promotions on-line will need to comply with the CAP Code. Some areas of concern include how the ASA will deal with the fine line between editorial and promotional material; how the extended remit will be adequately funded; how sanctions can be effectively enforced against companies with sites based overseas or indeed against those thousands of smaller on line advertisers who are blissfully unaware and ignorant of the CAP Code and whose advertising can change in seconds in this fast paced media environment.
All this comes into effect on the 1st March 2011, which does not give businesses long to review their on line promotions and marketing plans. The changes to the CAP Code ironically comes literally days after printed versions of the revised CAP and BCAP Codes were sent out to purchasers, and only a few months after a public consultation, which excluded these latest provisions.