his morning, 28th November, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched its new strategy for the next five years from 2024 to 2028.

At its core, the strategy aims to continue the objective of being preventative and proactive in picking targets for regulatory action, rather than simply reacting to the complaints inbox. The ASA also intends to complete investigations faster and to use AI to launch investigations more quickly, rather than waiting for complaints to arrive. On the enforcement side, the ASA will aim to be "agile and visible", including by continued development of the Intermediaries and Platform Principles.

As the name of the strategy suggests, artificial intelligence will be central to ad regulation going forward. The ASA anticipates processing 3 million ads through the Active Ad Monitoring system, this year and aims to get to 10 million next year. This is so that they can target a greater number of irresponsible ads in high priority areas and protect vulnerable people, in particular, from misleading, harmful or offensive ads. Greater use of the Active Ad Monitoring system will also enable the ASA to improve on reporting about compliance and the impact of their interventions.

The ASA have picked out 6 highlights from the strategy:

1. People: The ASA wants to recruit and retain the people from diverse backgrounds and a wide geographical area. Even outside London!

2. Planet: The ASA will continue with their focus on climate change and the environment, as well as implementing their own Net Zero plan.

3. Online: As well as scaling-up the AI-based Active Ad Monitoring system mentioned above, they will take a leadership position concerning the development of the regulatory framework for online ads, with increased transparency and accountability for platforms and intermediaries. In addition, the ASA will work with statutory regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority to tackle fraudulent online ads.

4. Awareness and buy-in: You can look forward to seeing more ads from the ASA as they continue to work towards increasing both awareness and trust in their regulation of advertising across all media. (Although not political advertising, despite the pending general election.)

5. Collective ad regulation: The ASA is going to collaborate with both UK regulators and other SRO's around the world through their umbrella organisations, such as the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) and International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS), to ensure ad regulation is effective. (Although if the ASA plans to go Net Zero, jollies to visit to EASA and ICAS colleagues will have to be replaced by zoom calls, as for the time being at least, the ASA appears to have little confidence in Sustainable Aircraft Fuel, despite today's Virgin Atlantic flight.)

6. Operational transformation: For many years, the ASA has been weary of having its agenda highjacked by ads that generate large numbers of complaints but have very little consumer detriment. The complaints by Celtic fans about the claim by Rangers FC to be Scotland's most successful team was the paradigm example. So they will aim to be proactive in dealing with issues that cause the greatest consumer detriment, including by faster completion of investigations, prevention of irresponsible ads from appearing, and delivery of "ongoing, agile and visible enforcement."

Follow the link below to read the whole strategy document.

And if you haven't already done so, please sign up for our fireside chat with Guy Parker, CEO of the ASA, when he will be discussing the new strategy, among other things, with Brinsley Dresden. For more details about this online event, click here.

"We're increasingly using AI to identify ads which may be problematic and to support our compliance work; we successfully trialled a world-first pilot scheme focused on platform and intermediary transparency and accountability; and we've been at the global forefront of green claims' regulation."


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