Protecting children online: Guidance to support responsible targeting

Today, CAP has published new guidance on children and age-restricted ads online.  This is the latest in a series of CAP publications to help marketers prepare and target marketing communications responsibly with child audiences in mind, following previous work on recognition of advertising by under-12s and non-broadcast ad placement earlier this year.

The internet engages more and more of the UK’s population in a diverse range of interests and activities, including commercial ones.   The ASA’s recent Annual Report revealed how nearly half of its work now involves regulating online “advertiser-owned” ads, material that was not covered before CAP extended the online remit of the non-broadcast Code online five years ago.

Given the growing diversity of activity online, it’s important for advertisers to target their ads effectively and responsibly.  This is particularly the case in relation to advertising for gambling, alcohol and other products that the ad rules CAP Code bans from being targeted at children and young people under 18.

One advantage of the increased diversity of activity online in the UK has been the development of a range of tools that allow advertisers to better define and reach the audience they want to target through the selection and/or deselection of “online interests”.  To support compliance with the rules, CAP has produced guidance to help advertisers make the best use of those tools to target legitimate audiences responsibly and exclude, to the best of their ability, the protected audience.

In general terms, the guidance strongly advises that the interests advertisers select or deselect in defining their target audience should clearly favour adults over excluded age groups.  In some cases, advertisers may also use date of birth information to help target their ads.  Where this is the case, advertisers should continue to ensure that, taken in the round, the “online interests” continue to favour adults over the excluded age groups.

Read the new guidance.

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