Operators ‘must use all tools available’ to prevent ads appealing to kids

New guidelines published by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have urged gambling operators to use “all the tools available to them on a social network platform” to prevent their ads from targeting children.

Published with the aim of protecting children from online gambling, the 17-page report insisted that this includes both ad targeting facilities provided directly by the platform, and tools that restrict under-18s’ access to marketers’ own social media content.

It set out four key points:  

  • prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at groups of individuals who are likely to be under 18 based on data about their online interests and browsing behaviour;
  • extensively list unacceptable types of content, including certain types of animated characters, licensed characters from movies or TV and sportspeople and celebrities that are likely to be of particular appeal to children, and references to youth culture; and
  • prohibit the use in gambling ads of sportspersons, celebrities or other characters who are or appear to be under 25; and
  • adds to existing guidance on the responsible targeting of ads, covering all media (including social networks and other online platforms).

The report also insisted that the responsibility lies with gambling operators to ensure that affiliates acting on their behalf comply with advertising rules. The affiliate section explained: “Responsibility lies with gambling operators to ensure that affiliates or other third parties acting on their behalf to publish or otherwise disseminate marketing communications comply with the Codes. Marketers should ensure affiliates comply with CAP’s gambling specific guidance as well as its more general targeting guidance.”

There was also guidance on the topic of influencers, with the ASA arguing that marketers should take particular care when identifying someone to promote their products or brands. “They should identify the influencer’s likely appeal and obtain audience data (for instance, the age breakdown of a follower or subscriber-base) to ensure that under-18s are not likely to comprise more than 25% of the audience,” they continued. “Where such data is not available or incomplete, marketers should exercise caution.” The new standards will come into force on 1 April.

Read the full report here.

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