The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld its own challenge after it discovered that an advertisement for Kwiff was seen within a news article regarding junior blues on the Portsmouth FC website.

The ad in question, seen on December 15, 2022, featured an advert for the Book of Dead slot game, comprising free spins offers and an ‘18+ new customers only’ accompanying text. 

In response to if the ad was appropriately targeted, Eaton Gate Gaming, trading as Kwiff, informed that it was in fact displayed in the news section, as opposed to junior blues membership pages and associated areas dedicated to children and young people.

It was also explained that due to its dynamic nature, the content and its location alternated depending on the viewer’s online behaviour, the data obtained by the technology used and the advertiser.

Kwiff also pointed to behavioural targeting, which it said was a “precise and accurate tool used to get a maximum return on ad spending and so limited underage viewing,” as well as tech deployed to aim the ad at specific profiles made up by age, location and interests and excluding under 18s. 

Despite acknowledging that “there was a small chance that ads could be seen by minors,” tracking data highlighted that 33 individuals had interacted with the ad and all passed age-verification.

Furthermore, the group noted that an “important point” was that the football club’s website “was not specifically directed at children,” which, Kwiff said, was also the case with the news section.

In detailing the ruling, the advertising watchdog disclosed: “They said that the statement, ‘do not worry if you are aged 18 or over, as we also have adult membership packages available’ could not be used to state the article was primarily seen by those under 18. 

“The page included a number of packages, Pompey Pup (up to four years old), Pompey Junior (5 to 12 years old) and Pompey Teen (13 to 17 years old) and so the mention of such ages could infer the article was, for example, directed at under fours but that was not realistic and actually it was meant for parents. 

“In addition, to become a Portsmouth FC member it required a payment, by debit or credit card, of £27.50 and so that indicated the article was directed at parents or relatives and not children.”

However, the ASA voiced disagreement within its overall assessment, stating that the content of the page “was of immediate interest to young people as it exclusively related to services aimed at under 18s”.

It was added that this “was compounded” by the inclusion of the Portsmouth FC mascot, in cartoon form, on an accompanying image.

Due to the smattering of membership options available, as well as making a specific reference to those aged 18 and over, the ASA ruled that this distinction indicated that the page “was primarily directed at readers under 18”.

The ASA added that those within the age bracket “could either use the article as a starting point to engage parents or relatives to become a member or for older children go on to buy the membership directly from the website”.

In ruling that the ad did not comply with the rules on gambling due to the wider context of the web page, Kwiff was reminded that future ads should not be directed at those aged below 18 years through the selection of media or context in which they appear.