ASA calls for a change in the advertising of broadband speed claims
17 November 2016
We have today published independent research into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims made in ads.
We commissioned the research to test whether regulatory standards, set by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and enforced by us, are effective in protecting the public from misleading claims. The standards permit headline speed claims that are achievable by at least 10% of customers, where they are preceded with the words “up to” and qualified, as appropriate, to help manage consumers’ expectations of achievable speeds. The study also tested consumers’ understanding of alternative speed claims including average speed claims, range speed claims, and minimum speed claims.
The research, conducted by GfK, found that:
These findings underpin our call for a change to the way broadband speed claims are advertised to ensure consumers are not misled, and the decision by CAP, also announced today, to review its guidance to advertisers on broadband speed claims. CAP will report publicly in spring 2017.
We will continue to have regard to the existing guidance for the duration of CAP’s review, ensuring that there is no reduction in the protection afforded to consumers in that period.
ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker said:
“Making sure ads don’t mislead is at the heart of what we do. We’ve taken action this year to tackle confusing broadband pricing, to the benefit of consumers. Our new research indicates that speed claims in ads contribute to consumers’ expectations of the broadband speeds they’ll receive, but their expectations are not being met. That needs to change.”
Director of CAP, Shahriar Coupal said:
“CAP welcomes the ASA’s research and we’ll now begin the process of updating our guidance and publish a response next spring.
The research provides good insights into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims, but it doesn’t identify an obvious alternative way to communicate speeds that would be suitable to everybody’s needs. It also tells us that consumers believe that advertising can only do so much, which underpins the importance of detailed broadband speed information being provided elsewhere.
CAP will take these findings and other information into account in its review of the guidance to ensure that broadband providers aren’t over-promising on their speed claims.”
Download the report and separate appendices.