The Advertising Standards Authority has been granted new authority to censure internet marketing campaigns conducted through free to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The advertising regulator now has its sights set on the social networking sites after receiving complaints numbering in the thousands.
Prior to this, the ASA only had authority over paid-for online adverts and traditional television adverts. However, it has received more than 4,500 complaints over the last three years about internet marketing schemes that had previously fallen beyond its remit.
Many search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists agree that such social networking sites are vital for online marketing and movement up the rankings of search engines such as Google. Such sites are typically a piece in the SEO jigsaw.
However, the ASA has tooled up for the expected increase in its workload; it has reportedly boosted its number of staff by around 10 per cent, or 70 employees, since the beginning of 2011.
The ASA’s chairman Lord Smith, said:
“This significant extension of the ASA’s remit has the protection of children and consumers at its heart.”
Chairman of the Committee of Advertising Practice, Andrew Brown, added:
“Extending the online remit of the ASA has been a top priority for UK industry over the last couple of years.
“Our aim has been to extend further in the online world the principles that are already well established in our system, namely those of effective consumer protection and fair competition.”
The ASA now boasts powers to force firms to withdraw their online marketing immediately, and has resolved to “name and shame” those that refuse to comply.