Travel company adverts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are to come under the scrutiny of the Advertising Standards Authority for the first time.
At the moment, the ASA has jurisdiction only over paid-for adverts and sales promotions online, but from March 1 next year its powers to stamp out misleading advertising will be extended to all online content.
The ASA said its remit would apply to all sectors and all businesses and organisations, 'regardless of size'.
Over the past two years, the ASA has received 4,500 complaints against online adverts but has been powerless to act because the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP code) did not apply to non-paid for space.
The CAP Code has now been extended to cover companies' adverts on their own websites and adverts on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.
It will have the power to remove paid-for links on search engines to misleading adverts. The ASA said it could even place its own adverts online to highlight a company's wrongdoing.
The new remit will come into force on March 1 next year, giving the ASA time to raise awareness among companies of the advertising regulations.
Website owners are being urged to sign up to CAP Services to get guidance and training to ensure their sites comply with the new rules before March 1.
By Linsey McNeill
Monday, September 6, 2010