ASA warns that its rules apply to the ‘vast majority’ of content marketing – Marketing regulations

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned gambling operators that the “vast majority” of “content marketing” communications are classified as marketing and must follow its rules, although it acknowledges that there are exceptions.

The ASA said that “there have been questions raised by the research” about whether the ASA rules apply to social media “content marketing” by gambling operators. This content, the ASA said, “does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”

This, the regulator noted, posed a challenge because the ASA regulates advertising but has no power over editorial content.

“Gambling social media accounts sometimes include editorial-style content, like comments or opinions on recent events, or more abstract humor, like ‘memes’ and other irreverent shots. on current sports news,” the ASA said. “This has been described by researchers as ‘content marketing’ where there are no direct product references, calls to action or links to operator websites.”

The ASA, however, noted that “the vast majority” of content marketing is to sell a product or service, and therefore falls within its purview.

However, he added that “there is potential[…] that certain social media content does not fall within the enforcement mandate of the ASA on the basis that it is considered not to be directly related to the supply of the gaming product”.

“That’s probably where there are no significant direct or indirect references to gaming products,” he added.

For messages within its jurisdiction, the ASA noted that the rules for gambling advertisements still apply to such communications. These include that gambling advertisements must not be directed at those under the age of 18, nor feature persons under the age of 25 in prominent roles, may not promote irresponsible gambling, and must not be ” particularly attractive” for children or young people.
The last of these rules is about to change, to a higher “strong appeal” standard, which would prohibit the use of characters popular with children even if they are more popular with adults.

The ASA said it would ultimately continue to “review complaints about social media ads brought to its attention on a case-by-case basis.”

“In limited scenarios where complaints about operators’ social media are deemed not to be within their purview, the ASA will refer them to the Gambling Commission,” the ASA added.