Which industry is worse when it comes to targeting children with online ads – the gambling business or the junk food business? According to a recent report from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), gambling operators are actually worse.
The findings are part of year-long study that’s being conducted by the ASA that monitors more than 50 websites and other digital properties. Researchers were looking for ads promoting junk food, e-cigarettes, and gambling.
Over the course of their first three months of study they found 156 ads that violated current standards. Approximately 70 of those ads were from gambling operators. (More specifically, 70 of those ads came from just four gambling operators.) Oddly enough, only one of the offending ads was for e-cigarettes.
In a statement reported on by Marketing Week, the ASA’s chief executive, Guy Parker shot out a warning to advertising scofflaws saying, “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children. We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly. This is just one part of a wider set of initiatives we’re undertaking to ensure children are protected online and we’ll report on our further work in this area in the coming months.”
The ASA says it will be contacting the offending gambling operators will be contacted, but that they won’t be facing any penalties at this time. They also declined to name the companies involved.