Today, UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced that the Government will review the regulatory framework of online advertising following consultation this spring.
Speaking at the Advertising Association and ISBA’s RENEW 2022 virtual conference this morning, she revealed that the government will consult this spring on the Online Advertising Programme, before using that consultation to “review the entire regulatory framework of online advertising, including the content placement and targeting of those ads.”
In her address to the British advertising industry, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport outlined that the programme’s aim is to address what she identified as a “lack of transparency right now”. She added that, “the supply chain is too opaque - it's a complex, often automated system, where highly personalised ads are delivered at speed and at scale, made worse by the fact that ads can be targeted towards specific audiences such as children or vulnerable groups. We want to get under the bonnet and shine a light on these issues. And we want to ensure today's ad world is as accountable as yesterday's.”
While recognising the ASA’s 60 years of work to regulate the advertising industry and highlighting that the regulatory body is developing its own online platform and network standards, Dorries added that: “We're looking to go further as a government. It's time for us to deliver meaningful change. Change that recognises how much the internet has transformed advertising over the last few decades. But also how advertising became the bedrock to the internet, funding so many of the services people now enjoy and couldn't imagine life without.”
The cabinet minister expressed that the Government’s priority is to empower regulators to take action on trickier issues before they come to government, to see fewer government interventions, like those we’ve seen recently on advertising products that are high in fat, sugar or salt.
“I know funds like that can be challenging for the industry and could have an effect on the wider economy,” she said. “That's why we want to make meaningful holistic changes. And we're considering a range of approaches to do so.”
In a response to the announcement, Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford said: “We also welcome the support she gives to the ASA and the work it is doing to be an effective self-regulatory body for advertising in all media, including online. The ASA is proactive in this respect, playing a full role in the wider debate that government, politicians, regulators, and industry is having – we all share the ambition for the UK to be the best and safest place to advertise and do business online.”