The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is well known for governing the advertising campaigns of UK Businesses such as print publications and TV advertising.
However, many smaller business owners were not aware that the ASA also govern the use of advertising on digital platforms including websites and company owned social media accounts.
The announcement made by the ASA explains the extent of which their regulations cover is “Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, 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”.
This guidance is fairly clear cut, but there are some key points that every small business owner should take note of.
1. All communications on your website are subject to the ASA regulations. These regulations aim to control communications that are designed to mislead, harm or offend. Particular focus is placed on communications relating to alcohol, health and beauty claims, children and young people, medicine, finance, environmental claims, direct marketing, prize promotions and gambling.
2. Social Networking Sites are included in other non-paid-for-space, and are subject to the same regulations as your own website. Interestingly, if you share a line of text on a social media account that is actually an advertisement then you should include a statement that tells people it is an advertisement, such as using the hash tag #Ad on Twitter, or placing an “Advertisement:” or “Ad:” warning on Facebook and other such sites.
3. Any comments posted by a 3rd party, such as a customer, will not be your responsibility. Only those communications that are posted by you or a representative of your business/company are subject to the regulations.