The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published the findings from its latest monitoring sweeps, which forms part of a year-long project to identify and tackle age-restricted advertisements appearing in children’s online media.
Over a three month period between October and December 2020, the ASA used monitoring tools to capture age-restricted ads served on a sample of 49 websites and 12 YouTube channels attracting a disproportionately high child audience. Ads involving gambling, alcohol, slimming and weight control products, e-cigarettes and tobacco, and food and soft drinks classified as high in fat, salt or sugar, were analysed.
A total of 47 age-restricted ads were found to have broken the advertising rules, while 21 advertisers placed age-restricted ads in 23 websites and eight YouTube channels that attracted a disproportionately high child audience.
“Following our first and second reports, the ASA is encouraged by the lower number of ads found to have broken the rules,” a statement from the ASA read. “Once we have run the monitoring again in Q1 2021, we will in the summer publish a final report, reflecting back on this year-long project and in which we reserve the discretion to publicise repeat offenders, if there are any.”
Ads for gambling, weight reduction and alcohol stayed at their previous levels, while gambling itself reported three ad breaches on three websites by one advertiser.
“We remain alive to concerns and we will be monitoring and reporting on this again,” said ASA chief executive Guy Parker. “But we’re making significant progress in our ambition to build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children and we expect that progress to continue.”