ASA and CAP detail the embrace of new technology in 2019 Annual Report

The Advertising Standards Authority has revealed in its 2019 Annual Report that it had resolved 34,717 complaints relating to 24,886 advertisements throughout the year.

Stated in the report, of those complaints 16,767 were about 14,775 online advertisements, with 9,971 complaints regarding 5,216 TV advertisements. The report revealed that more than a quarter of all online complaints related to influencer advertising, with 4,401 complaints about 3,670 ads.

The ASA confirmed in the report that it resolved 4,468 own-initiative compliance cases which resulted in 8,881 advertisements either being amended or withdrawn

Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: “Harnessing innovative technology to tackle misleading or irresponsible ads is playing a big part in helping us deliver more effective regulation for consumers and business. 

“We have some exciting plans ahead, including investment in data science and machine learning.  All of which is enabling us to be more proactive and fleet of foot in delivering our ambition to make UK ads responsible, wherever they appear.”

The ASA, alongside the Committee of Advertising Practice, highlighted how the use of technology has allowed them to be more effective in regulating UK advertising and protecting both consumers and businesses.

As part of a five year strategy, the report emphasised the use of ‘cutting-edge technology’ to monitor and tackle ‘problem ads’ at scale and speed. This includes using new avatar monitoring technology to visit over 250 websites 196,000 times. The report claimed that the new technology has helped the ASA capture and review 95,000 ads, which resulted in action being taken against a small number of ads in order to protect children.

The report emphasised CAP’s focus on prevention rather than cure by increasing its support to businesses in an effort to provide reinforcement in producing correct advertisements. According to the review, 550,242 pieces of advice and training, including to almost 1,500 people through webinars and eLearning modules, were provided by CAP.

It answered 6,973 queries through its ‘Copy Advice’ service, and its Influencer Guide was downloaded over 15,000 times.

CAP’s Enforcement Notice was sent to over 130,000 practitioners across the cosmetics service industry, with over 12,000 ‘irresponsible’ Instagram posts removed in one quarter. 

The report revealed that ASA and CAP are rearranging the way they work through a combination of prioritisation, improved partnership working and proactively taking action to tackle misleading and irresponsible ads. 

Furthermore, both companies will continue to work more closely with online platforms and networks to tackle bad paid-for ads.