As of 1st March the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) started to regulate marketing communications (marcomms) on websites and that includes blogs and social media sites too. This means the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) applies in full to any marketing messages online.
A time to worry? Or a time to give your online marcomms a once over? Fear not, it can only be a positive for online marketing as it brings it in line with the rules that apply to offline media. Put simply it is a crackdown on the crazy promises that are made by some unscrupulous traders, as a result trust in online marketing should increase.
Here are a couple of points to consider:
- Know what on your site constitutes marcomms: it’s not just the obvious large adverts but also subtle claims about products or services or delighted customer testimonials that aren’t quite true that could fall foul of the regulations.
- Check your social media platforms: as the rules apply to sites such as Facebook and Twitter too, don’t make any unsubstantiated claims about your products or services. Instead engage followers in industry debate or comments on issues in the news.
- Keep an eye on your blog too: especially as it is one of the most informal parts of your website it can be easy to slip up. Do talk about your products or services’ benefits but only if they are true and can be substantiated.
I hope that goes someway to helping you understand what the new regulations mean – in conclusion just make sure that everything you write online is truthful, transparent and not likely to mislead or offend.