A sponsored search ad for www.bookingsdirect.org.uk was headed "Book Official Theory Test - DSA Theory Test". Text underneath stated "www.bookingsdirect.org.uk/dsatest Online Booking Form. All UK Centres. Book Your Theory Test - Book Your Practical Test - Find Nearest Training Centre".
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it suggested it represented the official DSA theory test booking service.
bookingsdirect.org.uk agreed to make changes to their website, which the sponsored search ad linked to, to state that they were not the DSA and to incorporate a link to the official DSA website for customers who wished to use that site rather than theirs. They also agreed to remove the term "official" from their sponsored search ad.
The ASA welcomed the changes bookingsdirect.org.uk had made to their website and the removal of the term "official" from their sponsored search ad. We considered, however, that the .org.uk website address used by the advertiser was ambiguous, in that it was a suffix that could be used by both commercial and non-commercial organisations. We considered consumers would regard whether a website was the official site for a specified purpose as material information and, because we considered the content of the ad could suggest that respondents were directed to the DSA when that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told bookingsdirect.org.uk to ensure their sponsored search ads did not suggest that they were linked to the official website of the DSA.