Saturday, July 20, 2024

Self-certification a test for digital ads

CALCUTTA, JUNE 17: The Advertising Standards Council of India has supported self declaration by advertisers that certifies their ads are not misleading and are compliant with regulatory guidelines but sees practical challenges in the rollout, particularly in digital ads.
Following a Supreme Court directive on May 7, 2024, a self-declaration certificate is required to be obtained by all advertisers and advertising agencies for all new advertisements that will be issued/telecast/aired/published on or after June 18, 2024.
The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a statement earlier this month has said that it has introduced a feature on the Broadcast Seva Portal of the Ministry for TV and radio advertisements and on Press Council of India’s portal for print and digital/internet advertisements.
“From an intent point of view, it is quite clear and from the industry side, they would also like to support the basic principle that ads need to be honest and advertisers need to take accountability”, said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary-general of ASCI.
But the rollout is likely to be a challenge in the form of delayed campaigns and increased compliance burden both for large companies as well as small advertisers, MSMEs and content creators, who have befitted from the low cost of advertising on digital platforms.
“While compliance is non-negotiable, it will certainly create a big challenge particularly on the digital side. There will be a need to raise awareness among millions of advertisers today on compliance”, said Kapoor.
Rising complaints
ASCI has seen a rise in the number of complaints and ads processed in 2023-24 financial year with healthcare, illegal offshore betting, personal care among the sectors with most violations. ASCI has examined 10,093 complaints and investigated 8,299 ads compared with 8,951 complaints and 7,928 ads in 2022-23.
Digital ads had accounted for 85% of the ads processed in 2023-24, and had lower compliance rate of 75% compared with 97% for print and TV.
Kapoor said that ASCI is working closely with online platforms and has also taken initiatives to educate various stakeholders including social media influencers.
“We are working closely with platforms – Google and Meta and some of the others. The objective is common that the online space should be something that consumers should feel safe about”, Kapoor said.
“Our focus is also towards work on the preventive side of things. That means working with all the stakeholders. There are e-learning courses we have launched for advertisers, agencies and influencers. The other part is to identify the emerging areas of concern. For example we have done a lot of work on gender depiction in advertising”, she said.
ASCI is also undertaking a study to identify dark patterns in the Indian advertising space and a report is expected in a couple of months.
Dark patterns has been defined as practices or deceptive design pattern using user interface or user experience interactions on any platform that is designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do.
This can be done by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice, amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights, as per the guidelines notified by the Government in 2023.
(Courtesy: TT)