The line between business and public interests just got a little more blurred, with the expansion of monitoring areas for truthful marketing. From March 1st, the things businesses claim within non-paid space, including their own websites, are under the eye of a faithful watchdog. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced the change late last year, and it has now been put into effect.

The ASA has long had responsibility for ensuring consumers are protected against false advertising across all media, but the different spaces on the internet proved troublesome to categorise. Paid-for advertising has been under the ASA’s careful watch for some time, but, after more than 4,500 complaints about claims on business websites, the authority decided to extend its remit.

The move impacts on multiple areas of advertising, as any search marketing or PPC that connects back to a website featuring non-compliant marketing materials could be removed by the authority.

The authority should anticipate a certain amount of confusion about what does and does not constitute a marketing message under its new areas of protection. While the ASA website sets out that marketing material does not include press releases, corporate reports or editorial material, the main guideline is that the new area covers any communication ‘that primarily sets out to sell something.’ This could prove confusing for businesses who have been slipping a ‘contact us now’ into their informative web content for SEO purposes.

The new area of responsibility covers any non-paid advertising space, including Facebook and Twitter.

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