ASA and CAP legislation comes into force today

01

Mar

2011

Robert Wakefield
0 Comments

By Robert Wakefield   

Even websites won't escape the eagle eyes of the Advertising Standards Authority!

It's not all bad news, but in this blog post we'll look at the impact this may have, who it affects and what the consequences might be for you if your website breaches the new standards which come into force today...

Even websites won't escape the eagle eyes of the Advertising Standards Authority!

It's not all bad news, but in this blog post we'll look at the impact this may have, who it affects and what the consequences might be for you if your website breaches the new standards which come into force today.

Firstly, who does this cover?
Just about everyone who runs a website, sends out marketing material, advertises products or services. There appear to be no exclusions for sector-type, organisation size or business type. If you sell, or attempt to sell (by 'invitation to treat') on your website, in your emails, marketing tools or other medium this legislation applies to you, as the business or website owner.

What are the ASA and CAP seeking to achieve here?
Regulation of all digital online marketing, be it website, email, adverts etc. Strict codes of practice already apply to many other offline advertising channels and the ASA feels it is now time to include online communications within its control. The objective is to ensure that all online messages (including blog posts such as this one) are truthful, decent, honest (and not misleading) and, of course, legal.

When does this all begin?
Today, but the next six months will see a gradual 'phasing in' of the legislation and the ASA and CAP want to use the next few months to raise awareness of the Codes of Conduct and ensure that all site owners comply with the new codes. It's a fairly mammoth task for the ASA but they mean business with this one; do not assume they will not bother with your little business - their scope seems all-encompassing. Firms such as Laithwaites Wines, Thomas Cook, Vista Print and Homebase are already on the Adjudications `name and shame` list, along with many other lesser known companies!

Are there any exceptions?
From what we've managed to glean thus far, those sites that do not attempt to sell services or products and are purely informational (for example a non-profit informational website or forum) would be exempt. Classified private ads, press releases, editorial content and other public relations and political material, corporate reports, and investor relations information is quite clearly exempt.

What was the good news?
Oh yes! There is some good news too; surely, any reputable and decent company would want the web industry to be totally cleaned up of rogue traders - whichever sector they are in? We welcome the new legislation and guidelines: we feel it's about time the web had a jolly good clean up! We'd love to hear your comments on this topic generally, so please feel free to comment at will - you may remain completely anonymous if you prefer!

Is there any help available?
Yes, there is. You can download informational bulletins from the ASA website at http://www.asa.org.uk/ or from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) website at http://www.cap.org.uk/


About the Author.

Robert Wakefield


My career in SEO and web development began in the mid-1990s when the Internet was in its infancy and Google had not even been conceived. Nowadays my role is split between heading up the content marketing/ SEO department, which has grown considerably over recent years, and overseeing operations including PHP and MySql (Open Source) development for larger, more bespoke applications.

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