As the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media, our (ASA) purpose is to make advertisements responsible and our ambition is to make every UK ad a responsible ad.
We put people first and particularly focus on online ads. We use technology, including AI, to enhance our effectiveness and efficiency. We work with the advertising industry and other regulators too, delivering collective ad regulation.
Our strategy: AI-assisted collective ad regulation
Our Strategy contains six strands:
- People: We will put people first and prioritise protecting vulnerable people. On matters of offence, we will prioritise only the most serious cases. We will take account of prevailing societal trends and beliefs to inform our regulation and ensure we represent everyone. And we will make sure we have the best people, recruiting, retaining and exploring more flexible working practices for people from both diverse backgrounds and a wider geographical area.
Planet: We will run our Climate change and the environment project throughout the strategy period, as well as continuing to implement our own Net Zero plan.
Online: We will continue to regulate all forms of online advertising that we cover, using our AI-based Active Ad Monitoring system to identify and swiftly act against irresponsible online ads, as well as provide more comprehensive reporting on compliance levels. We will champion how we think the regulatory framework should develop to help meet the challenges we face regulating online ads, bringing greater transparency and broader accountability. We will work closely with other statutory regulators whose remits overlap with ours and play our part in tackling fraud involving online ads. And we will be authoritative and influential in online ad regulation.
Awareness and buy-in: We will be ambitious in increasing public and opinion-former awareness of, and trust in, the nature and extent of our ad regulation in all media. We will continue to make the case for collective ad regulation to the ad industry. And we will continue to invest in our data science capability, more people to address over-leanness in some areas and more people to act on data science insights.
Collective ad regulation: We will continue to work with governments and statutory regulators, including to explore and as necessary address any material gaps in ad regulation. And we will, through our membership of EASA and ICAS, continue our engagement with supranational organisations and institutions.
Operational transformation: We will prioritise proactive regulatory projects that adopt a ‘whole system’ approach on ad-related issues that cause the most detriment to people. We will resolve investigations quicker. And we will fully exploit data science, deploying mature capability and securing access to more ads and better data about them
Our 2019-2024 strategy
Our Strategy contains six strands:
- People and the planet: We will put people first. People means everyone, not just those who complain to us. We’ll explore the role advertising regulation can play in responding to the climate emergency. We’ll be open to listening and collaborating in new ways. And we’ll continue to improve our engagement with the UK nations and regions.
- Online: We will improve our regulation of online advertising. We'll continue to focus on misleading content and inappropriate targeting, but we'll also be open to thinking beyond that, for example working more closely both with the large online platforms and with the government and Ofcom, both on Video Sharing Platform advertising regulation and to address any gaps in online advertising regulation, including potentially via co-regulation. We’ll raise awareness of, and develop our thought-leadership in, online ad regulation.
- Effectiveness: We will deliver high quality, proactive regulatory projects on ads that cause the most detriment to people. We’ll prioritise better, use machine learning to improve our regulation, act more nimbly, simplify and make more efficient our regulation where we can.
- Buy-in: We will work closely with key stakeholders to put our funding on a sustainable basis. We’ll seek greater buy-in from online-only advertisers, retailers, brands, micro- and SME businesses and the social influencer community, by highlighting the benefits of our regulation and being open to regulating differently.
- Enforcement: We will improve how we proactively identify and remove irresponsible ads (particularly online) and our sanctioning of non-compliant advertisers.
- Independence: We will continue to regulate without fear or favour, taking account of the evidence-base at all times. We’ll continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of our regulation – including in response to challenges to TV and online ad regulation – through our actions and our communication, and we’ll be open-minded to change that strengthens the ASA system.
Download our strategy: More Impact Online
How we regulate
We regulate ads wherever they appear. It’s right for us to focus on online ads because businesses increasingly advertise online, people are spending more time online and the pace of change online contributes to concerns, but we won’t take our eye off the important task of making sure ads are responsible in other media too. Resolving complaints will continue to be vital to our work, but so will continuing our proactive regulation.
Our shared values
External stakeholders will also find us
- Independent in administering the Advertising Codes
- Evidence-based, targeted and consistent
- Reflective of society, not a social engineer
Our commitment to good regulationIt’s important that those we regulate understand what standards they can expect from us as a regulator.
Together, the ASA and CAP are committed to regulating in a way that is transparent, proportionate, targeted, evidence-based, consistent and accountable.
In Our Commitment to Good Regulation we have set out six commitments – modelled on the Regulators’ Code - and some of the practical ways in which we make these commitments a reality through our day-to-day work.
Like the Regulators’ Code, our commitments do not take away from our main purpose to ensure that all UK ads are responsible. It remains important for us to continue to strike the right balance between those we regulate and those we protect.
Our six commitments
- We’ll keep regulatory burdens to a minimum
- We’ll engage with you
- We’ll be targeted
- We’ll share information
- We’ll provide advice and training support
- We’ll be transparent
ASA and CAP commitment to good regulation.pdf
Consistency is a principle of good regulation; it helps to create clarity which leads to good practice amongst businesses. That’s why we strive to ensure that the rulings reached by the ASA and the advertising standards set by CAP are consistent.
We believe that consistency is best achieved through open communication with businesses, consumers and other regulators to create a shared sense of understanding of what rules and standards mean. We do this by being transparent in our decision making and by providing effective channels of communication to help guide the regulatory decisions we take.
If you’re concerned that we’re being inconsistent in our regulation and neither the CAP consultation process nor the ASA complaints handling process are the appropriate means of registering your concern, please contact us.
In particular, we want to hear from businesses who feel that the requirements we place on them conflict with other legal or regulatory restrictions, or if our advice differs from the advice given by another regulatory body.