From March 1st 2011, advertising and marketing communications on websites in the UK will be regulated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). The ASA is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.
The ASA’s present remit online includes ads in paid-for space and sales promotions wherever they appear. However, from March 1st, the ASA’s online remit has been extended to cover marketing communications on organisations’ own websites and in other non-paid-for space under their control. (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc)
The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) will apply in full to marketing messages online, including the rules relating to misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children. The CAP Code includes rules that help to ensure marketing communications remain legal, decent, honest and truthful.
It will cover:
- Advertisers’ own marketing messages on their own websites, regardless of sector, type of businesses or size of organisation
- Marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under the advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The new remit covers advertisements and other marketing communications of organisations, operating from the UK, on their own websites and in other non-paid for space online under their control (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn ).
Apparently, user generated content (UGC) falls within the new remit only if it is adopted and incorporated within an organisation’s own marketing communications on its own website or in other non-paid for space online under the organisation’s control.
You can have a Copy Advice Website Audit carried out on your website however, a standard Audit costs £800 + VAT and takes up to 10 working days to complete so I don’t see many small businesses will be queuing up for these !
CAP do however provide a number of different CAP guidance notes which are industry-approved and provide detailed guidance on the application of the broadcast and non-broadcast Codes in specific sectors or on particular subjects.
I guess that as long as you ensure you adopt a legal, decent, honest and truthful approach in any messages on your website and apply some common sense, in most cases you will be OK anyway.