Insights The ASA completes its year long collaboration with members of IAB UK to expand the ASA’s role online

In June 2022, the ASA launched a year-long Pilot with IAB UK (a member body of the Committee of Advertising Practice) to explore how the ASA could cooperate more closely with businesses to improve accountability and transparency around the regulation of paid online ads.

The aims of the Pilot were to consider how to: (a) promote awareness of the advertising rules amongst advertisers; and (b) help the ASA secure compliance in instances where advertisers are repeatedly falling foul of the rules.

The Pilot involved companies such as Google, Meta, Amazon Ads and TikTok providing information to the ASA to show how they aligned with the six Intermediary and Platform Principles. The Principles required that participating companies would:

  • make sure their advertising and associated contractual terms comply with the CAP Code;
  • clearly communicate with advertisers of the company’s products/services that they must comply with the CAP Code where advertising to a UK audience;
  • help the ASA promote the public’s and advertisers’ awareness of the ASA system;
  • take reasonable and appropriate measures to make advertisers aware of the tools available to minimise children’s and young people’s exposure to age-restricted ads;
  • act quickly to remove non-compliant ads where notification from CAP Compliance has flagged an ad to be subject to a breach of the CAP Code (in connection with an ASA ruling) or is an indisputable breach of the CAP Code and the advertiser has failed to change or withdraw the ad; and
  • provide information to the ASA relating to advertisers’ use of the company’s services in a timely manner to help the ASA investigate potential breaches of the CAP Code where such information can’t be secured from the advertiser directly.

Using this information, the ASA published an interim report last December considering how the participating companies performed against the Principles. The ASA will publish a final report assessing the full year in autumn 2023.

It’s clear that the ASA is actively considering new ways to enhance their ability to enforce the CAP Code online. In fact, the ASA commented that the final report may inform future policy thinking in this area. As such, businesses and advertisers should take note of the potential methods the ASA tested in the Pilot and the ASA’s reflections on the success of these in the final report later this year.