Online marketing to be covered by CAP code


On 1st September 2010 it was announced that the digit remit of ASA is to be extended from 1st March 2011 to cover online marketing communications.

From 1 March 2011, the CAP Code will apply to:

"Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities."

So how does the CAP code impact online advertising?

The CAP code will apply in areas such as

  1. 'non-paid-for space online under the advertiser's control': this phrase covers, although not exclusively, advertisements and other marketing communications on advertiser-controlled pages on social networking websites. It explicitly mentions ‘paid for space’, ‘paid-for search listings’, ‘preferential listings on price comparison sites’ and ‘viral advertisements’ are mentioned.

With regards paid advertising the members of CAP have agreed new sanctions aimed at ensuring compliance on websites and paid for space under the advertiser's control. These are

  • Providing details of an advertiser and the non-compliant marketing communication on a special part of the ASA website. 
  • Removal of paid-for search advertising – ads that link to the page hosting the non-compliant marketing communication may be removed with the agreement of the search engines. 
  • ASA paid-for search advertisements - the ASA could place advertisements online highlighting an advertiser’s continued non-compliance.

The next six months should see an advertising and awareness campaign by ASA to inform all relevant parties about the impact on online advertising.

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