Many of the UK’s PR professionals have been disappointed that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been given power to regulate online marketing. The powers go beyond applying the rules to banner and text adverts, and cover online promotion on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
With social media marketing frequently being seen as PR, rather than advertising, this move could force a change of approach from brands. The CIPR has already “called for clarity”.
As I work in the B2B Technology sector, I’m actually not that worried. Clients don’t sail as close to the wind as they do in consumer markets, preferring to protect the integrity of their brand rather than make misleading claims (although in the past I have managed to get competitors’ adverts withdrawn by complaining to the ASA). However, I do hope the ASA doesn’t simply try to force rules designed for advertising on social media marketing. It is a different medium, and needs a slightly different approach. I’m optimistic that the ASA understands this, and will be sympathetic to the views of PR professionals, as well as advertisers.