helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

By Nick Stringer, Director of Regulatory Affairs, IAB

This week the IAB hosted an event on ‘How to be safe and social’ to explore how brands and consumers are protected when engaging in social media. This follows research from the IAB and ISBA that found that only 55% of UK brands currently have a social media policy with many also cautious about the perceived lack of control they face when using social and embarking upon real-time conversations with consumers.

We welcomed four excellent speakers: from Reputation Online; Malcolm Phillips from the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) – the industry body that writes the self-regulatory rules; Ashley Hurst from legal firm, Olswang; and from Betfair. The discussion was timely, as on 1 March, the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) extended digital remit goes live, bringing marketing communications within websites and social media into the existing self-regulatory advertising system. The discussion was also lively, particularly within the where there was a wide range of views on whether the ASA’s extended digital remit is a good thing or not. You can see the presentations from the event here.

The IAB believes it is a good thing. As we’ve said before, it is good for consumers and it is good for business – preserving the integrity of social media allowing it to continue to grow as a marketing platform. The very nature of the media will always mean that there will be grey areas (the ‘retweeting’ one seemed to be the most talked about) and we enter unchartered waters for digital media self-regulation. It is also good that the very nature of the media means that broader industry and the ASA will be able to listen to everyone’s views, debate the issues and get self-regulation right. Underpinned by the legal framework, the ASA system helps fill in the gaps, is flexible and a more cost-effective way of resolving disputes (than the courts): we should work with it.

You can read the IAB’s new guide to digital advertising regulations here, our FAQs specifically on the extended digital remit and / or visit CAP’s Copy Advice service (which includes a website audit at a very reasonable price!).

Follow the and / or .

By , Director of Regulatory Affairs, IAB

Earlier this week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced its intention to extend its self-regulatory digital media remit from 1 March 2011. This will cover business’ own marketing communications on their own websites as well as in other non paid-for space under an advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites. All paid-for digital advertising, such as PPC search, display and (commercial) classified, is already covered by robust rules to protect consumers and promote trust within the sector.

What does this mean?


It means that the self-regulatory system for UK advertising is keeping pace with evolving digital marketing. The IAB has published a set of FAQs which provide further details on the extended remit. So what is really changing? The extended rules will toughen up on those that use these platforms to market age-restricted products, such as alcohol, as well as apply the existing food marketing rules. These are ‘thorny’ issues and so we should welcome this. The politicians certainly will. Chris Reed from PR and social media agency Brew Digital summed it all up very nicely: he concludes that “for most of us working in this space it should mean no change whatsoever.” He’s right. These new rules should not replace true self-regulation. Businesses should treat all marketing communications / ‘conversations’ with consumers as within remit to uphold the integrity of digital marketing. Read more…