The UK government laid out new rules earlier this week to crack down on illegal advertising and protect young consumers from viewing age-restricted products. These reforms have subsequently been welcomed by the country’s betting and gaming trade association
Published on 25 July, the new rules require social media platforms and websites, as well as other services which feature advertising, to take ‘tougher action’ in order to prevent children from viewing marketing for products such as gambling and alcohol.
The government plans to use both ‘legislative and non-legislative measures’ to enforce the policies, with social media platforms to be required by law to have ‘proportionate systems and processes’ to prevent illegal ads reaching consumers.
Sir John Whittingdale, Creative Industries Minister and former Minister of State for Media and Data responsible for heading the Gambling Act review, said: “Advertising is a huge industry in which Britain is a world leader. However, as online advertising has taken a steadily bigger share, the rules governing it have not kept pace and so we intend to strengthen them to ensure consumers are properly protected.
“Our plans will shut down the scammers using online adverts to con people out of their cash and will stop damaging and inappropriate products being targeted at children.
“We will make sure that our proposed regulation helps keep people safe while supporting and enhancing the legitimate advertising industry so it can maximise its innovation and potential.”
Responding to the government announcement, the BGC has praised the measures as better protecting young people from harm, particularly lauding the updated policies for social media platforms.
The BGC has been vocal in calling for changes, having previously contacted the DCMS on the issue. In a letter to DCMS Secretary Lucy Frazer, BGC CEO Michael Dugher argued that more cooperation with the industry on advertising was needed from social media platforms.
Moving forward, the BGC’s ideal outcomes include the introduction of a marketing suppression tool by social media firms to prevent betting ads been seen GAMSTOP registered online users.
More work is also needed on ‘ad frequency’, the BGC added, something which the association believes requires further cooperation from the social media sector.
On the new measures, Dugher said: “We strongly welcome these new measures set out by Sir John Whittingdale MP which will do more to protect children and young people from seeing age restricted adverts.
“It follows our calls on the government to do more in this area, because we recognised change was needed. BGC Members have already taken big steps to ensure adverts by our members only reach the right audiences. This new guidance from the Government will ensure that the platforms are required to do the same.
“Our members look forward to continuing to drive higher standards, whilst investing in jobs and businesses in the UK.”
The government plans to conduct consultations on the new rules post-publication. This will include a meeting to ‘help drive change’ convened by DCMS Minister Stuart Andrew MP.
Meanwhile, a consultation on details of potential legislation, such as the choice of regulator to oversee rules, will also be launched – alongside a taskforce to gather evidence around advertising and develop industry initiatives.
Whittingdale will chair the taskforce alongside Mark Lund, the Chair of the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (ASBF) and former President of McCann UK and Europe. Other members include Anthony Browne, Anti-Fraud Champion, and representatives of the Advertising Standards Authority, tech trade bodies and consumer groups.
Lund commented: “UK advertising is a dynamic engine for the UK economy because it’s creative and trusted. So, I’m delighted to be helping lead in the task force’s role in strengthening industry’s response to illegal harms advertising and the protection of children online, building on the long-term success of the ASA and the self-regulation system in keeping both trust and creativity at world leading levels.”