Social Media and the ASA Cap Code

February 25, 2011

March 1st 2011 will be a significant day in the history of digital and social media marketing and advertising. That’s because from this date the ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) remit will extend to cover all brand owned websites, their social media pages as well as video and mobile campaigns.

What does the Cap Code mean for your brand?

The ASA now has the power to regulate all online and mobile marketing communications and ensure compliance with the Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (The CAP Code). This covers all businesses, regardless of size, and extends to other non-paid-for space online under your business’ control (e.g. messages you post on social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook).

At agency:2 we feel this is a very important and significant step forward.  As one of the Founders of the DMA, we have constantly adhered to strict ethical guidelines. We are proud of always working ethically and legally for the good of our clients. Our aim as a Social Media Council member has always been to focus on legislation and social media best practice.

Being honest and open is not only ethical and legal but also adds value to brands and, most importantly, the audience. That is why all the social media marketing campaigns that we run are completely transparent. We believe the new remit will ensure that the same high standards which exist in other media published in the UK will now consistently be adhered to in digital marketing communications right across the board.

The rules in the current CAP code will now apply to digital communications and the ASA will be able to use these powers to ensure that misleading and falsified marketing and advertising communications online by any business within the UK are removed.

How will they implement this?

  • Current practice includes unfavourable publicity arising from an ASA adjudication as well as the withdrawal of trading privileges, including media space.

New sanctions:

  • The ASA will provide details of an advertiser and the non-compliant marketing communication on a specifically designed ASA microsite, which draws public attention to the offending piece of communication.
  • The ASA will also work in conjunction with search engines to remove any paid-for search advertisements that link directly to the page hosting the non-compliant marketing communication.
  • They will also place paid-for advertisements on search engines highlighting the continued non-compliance of an advertiser’s marketing communication, linking through to the ASA microsite.

We are extremely hopeful that this will have the desired effect and that all online communications become more transparent and ensure people reading online are receiving honest and truthful messages.

March 1st then – a date to put into your iCal.


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