From this week, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authoritys online remit will be extended to cover “marketing communications on organisations own websites and in other non-paid-for space under their control.” Of course, most of us probably thought that making misleading claims on our websites was already frowned on, if not illegal, but that wasn’t the case. Only advertisements needed to be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”, but now our own online sales material needs to have the same standards.
If your marketing communications (including content on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter) receives complaints, you’re not likely to be dragged down to the police station in the middle of the night, but the ASA can “name and shame” offenders, and they’ve secured agreements from search engines to remove paid-for search advertising leading to problematic content. Note that we’re talking about sales material here, and this does not seem to apply to press releases and other public relations material.
I would recommend taking a look at the details on the Committee of Advertising Practice website. In particular, it’s worth watching a webcast: click the “Digital remit training seminar – webcast” link, and if nothing else, watch the third video, the 20-minute “Digital remit – what we cover” presentation. You’ll need to register to watch it.