Advertising watchdog to get its teeth into Social Notworking

Blighty’s advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority has decided it is going to bite the rump of social notworking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The ASA has left the world wide wibble pretty much alone but says that it has been receiving thousands of complaints about online marketing.

Since 2008, the ASA said it has received more than 4,500 complaints about online marketing which did not fall under its remit. Now, in response to a recommendation by the UK advertising industry, it is going to go for it.

The watchdog has increased its complaints and investigation staff by 10 per cent to about 70 people since January, to deal with the anticipated increase in complaints about online marketing that now fall under its remit.

Lord Smith, chairman of the ASA, said the significant extension of the ASA’s remit has the “protection of children and consumers” at its heart. Why he felt the need to break out children from the consumers bracket is anyone’s guess. He could have also added fluffy puppy dogs and kittens if he wanted to get the sympathy vote.

The ASA said it will not censure members of the public for sharing material which has already been banned.

This means that TV ads, including Beyonce’s banned campaign for the perfume company Coty UK which appear on YouTube and other video sharing sites after being uploaded by members of the public will not go away.

However the ASA can order censured companies to immediately withdraw online marketing and will now “name and shame” businesses that do not comply with its extended remit.

While the ASA has put the fear of god into many off-line advertisers, it remains to be seen if it will meet its Waterloo on the World Wide Wibble.