The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released data from their 2019 survey on children’s exposure to age-restricted ads. This report has revealed that the minors’ exposure to gambling advertising is now at the lowest level since 2008. While this trend represents a positive example and a benchmark in terms of the hard work and dedication of all regulatory bodies, ASA has previously warned on the need to stay vigilant when policing online ads.
Exposure rates reduced by half compared to 2013
The UK advertising rules contain scheduling restrictions, specially designed to reduce under-18’s exposure to ads for age-restricted products such as alcohol, betting and gambling. Reflecting that, the ASA report on exposure forms part of the ongoing commitment to protect children, young and vulnerable people.
Generally speaking, the authorities have come to a conclusion that the number of ads seen by children aged from 4-15 has dropped to 115.9 ads per week, a significant drop compared from the peak in 2013 when that number reached around 229.3 ads per week.
After decreasing by two-thirds since 2008, the number of alcohol ads presence has remained at the same level as that observed in the last four years (0.9 ads per week). This means that on average in 2019, children were exposed to one alcohol advert for every five seen by an adult.
Furthermore, the number of gambling ads viewed by kids has dropped by half, to an average of 2.5 ads per week. To compare, they saw 2.2 and 2.7 gambling ads per week in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The peak in terms of gambling ads exposure was noticed in 2013 when record 4.4 ads per week were shown to minors. The overall impression is that the exposure to gambling ads on TV has remained at a similar level during the last six years. Bingo, lottery and scratch cards make up the majority of gambling ads on TV that children see, followed by ads for casinos and betting-related commercials.
ASA yields on online ads policies
While the findings suggest the TV ad rules continue in the help of appropriate limitations, ASA is yielding on children’s media consumption habits, transferring their interest and attention online, aside from the small screen. Their presence on social media, using different streaming and on-demand platforms as well as their bold social media engagement points out the need for a different approach when it comes to online mediums. To combat the challenge online, the ASA has been harnessing new technology to proactively monitor brands that target children online, and take effective actions where needed.
The ASA Chief Executive Officer Guy Parker stated that their latest reports show the minors’ exposure to sensitive products like alcohol and gambling remains low. He adds that they will continue their proactive monitoring to make sure they are well aware of the situation on every media platform and take appropriate measures according to the situation.
In April last year, the ASA said it had used new monitoring technology to identify gambling ads that children see online and as a result had banned ads from five gambling operators which did not stick to the regulations.
John Timothy, the Chief Executive of the Portman Group which is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body supported the ASA report. He added that it is of a big importance to be aware that children’s exposure rate to sensitive content continues to decline, highlighting the serious commitment of marketing agencies and executives to market their products responsibly and in an age-appropriate manner.