McNulty Slams “Irrelevant” ASA

Earlier this week, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that, as of 1 March, its online remit had been extended to cover companies’ own marketing claims on their own websites and in other non-paid for space they control. The ASA said the “landmark development” would bring enhanced consumer protection, particularly for children.
The ASA already regulated paid-for online ads such as banners, pop-ups and paid search results, but its new responsibilities mean that it now also regulates marketing communications on companies own websites, and in other non-paid spaces they control online, such as Facebook and Twitter. Naturally, this also applies to mobile.
In announcing the move, the ASA said that, since 2008, it had received over 4,500 complaints that it couldn’t deal with, but that now, anyone who has a concern about an online marketing communication will be able to turn to the Authority.
But not everyone is happy about the development. Martin McNulty, general manager at integrated online agency, Forward3D, says that anyone who believes the ASA announcement is a sign of the digital market maturing, and that those renegades of online will finally have to grow up and start acting like proper advertisers, miss the mark on two fronts, firstly, to assume that the ASA ever really had any power, and secondly, to assume that internet advertising is inherently bad, and needs regulating.
“The world’s most successful and fastest growing advertising platform – Google Adwords – has flourished without regulation, because the people that run it care about the user experience and have built the platform accordingly,” says McNulty. “The announcement by the ASA communicates one thing; the utter irrelevance of the ASA, and that’s before we get on to the practicalities of how it intends to resource its new web remit.
“When your local church hall begins advertising Capoeira or Pilates classes, it’s not a sign that the vicar has suddenly become hip, but rather a sign that something has become so mainstream that to ignore it would make you look dangerously out of touch.”