The UK government is reviewing the regulatory framework for paid online advertising and has opened consultation on possible options for reform. He said action was needed to address the harms of online advertising stemming from transparency and accountability issues.
The government has said it could introduce a new statutory regulator to oversee the sector, backed by new information-gathering and auditing powers. An alternative option he is considering is to establish a “backstop” regulator to deal with serious or repeat offenders. The supporting regulator would support the work of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which currently oversees compliance with UK advertising codes. Another option being considered by the government is to strengthen the existing self-regulatory system for online advertising.
The ASA is currently developing “online platforms and network standards” and the government has said it will “consider” the effectiveness of these standards to improve accountability and transparency when choosing service options. reform to be selected.
According to the government’s consultation paper, the government could require advertisers to meet new record-keeping obligations. These would support audits and regulatory investigations. Information such as campaign objectives, KPIs and targeting instructions, as well as vendor campaign delivery reports, could be subject to regulatory inspection, the government suggested.
Advertisers could also be required to declare their interest in placing “high risk” advertisements to ensure that these advertisements are subject to further scrutiny, while they could also be required to comply with new rules on how they target these ads to avoid reaching vulnerable groups.
Intermediaries could also face new record-keeping obligations to help regulators better understand harmful ads, the threats intermediaries prevent, and “bad actor habits.” New standards for identity verification and information sharing could also be imposed to help take action against serious or repeat offenders. An obligation for intermediaries to pre-verify advertisements offered by repeat offenders is also being considered by the government. Under the proposals, intermediaries could also be required to “adhere to strict ad acceptance policies” and set publisher onboarding policies.
In addition to new record keeping and reporting obligations, platforms could be subject to a new duty of care to minimize the harm caused by online advertising. They could also be mandated to proactively review the content of advertisements classified as “high risk” before advertising campaigns go live on their platforms. The government is also considering requiring platforms to “provide tools for advertisers to implement a brand safety policy”, which would impact ad placement.
For publishers, new measures around record keeping, identity verification and customer empowerment tools are under consideration.
The government consultation is open until June 1, 2022.
“Our range of options varies from the current self-regulatory framework to more interventionist solutions which would involve the introduction of legislation and a statutory regulator for online advertising,” the government said.
“We want to ensure that any action taken as a result of our consultation is proportionate to the issue at hand and recognizes that there may be threats to this system in the future. We intend to leverage existing expertise and encourage and accelerate efforts that demonstrate our ability to build trust in online advertising, while recognizing areas where we need to go further. We therefore call on stakeholders to provide evidence and arguments as to where and how they see damage being effectively addressed, but also to be transparent and open in discussing stronger measures that could help address against some of the issues that we have identified,” he said.