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Government toughens stance on illegal online ads

Government toughens stance on illegal online ads

The UK government has announced a crackdown on illegal and misleading online advertising.

Published on Wednesday as part of the government’s Online Advertising Programme report, the plans call upon social media platforms and websites to do more to prevent intrusive, inappropriate and unethical ads being seen by internet users, particularly children.

The plans come after Creative Industries Minister Sir John Whittingdale said admitted laws had “not kept pace” with the online advertising industry. They draw attention to ads for adult-only products like gambling and alcohol, but they also address the rise in using fake celebrity endorsements to trick consumers, a technique that has become more common and more convincing with the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

One of the most frequent involuntary stooges to this practice is MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis. A trusted figure for his financial tips, images of Lewis have long appeared in online ads to give a false impression of him endorsing a product or service. Earlier this month, Lewis said he felt “sick” after watching a deepfake video that used his likeness to promote an investment scheme.

Online ads in the UK are regulated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which is perhaps more readily thought of as dealing with TV, radio and print advertising. However, the ASA upholds more complaints about internet advertising than any other form.

Companies advertising online should practice the same ethics and honesty they would if they were advertising on TV or in print. Dishonest or misleading claims will, in the long run, only damage the credibility of your company, and could mean wasted money if your ad is withdrawn.

If you’re looking for help with online advertising that will attract business rather than complaints or legal issues, speak to our team at Engage Web. Also, you can join EngageWeb.Club for just £7 per month and get access to a hive of useful videos and tips, while also staying informed on when our workshops are taking place.

John Murray

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