Summary of Council decision:
A tweet on Spencer Owen’s page seen on 12 October 2017 stated “Follow ‘SpencerOwen’ on @betbullcom app for chance to win £250 in free bets! Check out my acca for this weekend! […] #ad”.
The complainant, who believed that Spencer Owen was popular with under 18s, challenged whether the ad had been appropriately targeted.
Vivaro Ltd t/a Betbull.com said they believed that the tweet did not breach the CAP Code. They explained that the social media campaign was conducted by an external marketing agency and that their agreement included an express provision that the target audience was over 18 years of age. BetBull considered that they had fulfilled their obligation by establishing the age limit for the respective demographic and that the age limit was agreed upon for the specific purpose of ensuring their compliance with the CAP Code. They included a copy of the agreement letter.
They further stated that the agreement stipulated that the social media campaigns must have clearly stated that entrants must be over 18 to join BetBull which further supported that the target demographic of the social media campaign was over 18s. They provided a screen shot of a Spencer FC video caption which included the text “You must be 18+ to use the app”. They also said that the demographic data which they were shown, demonstrated that only 14% of Spencer FC’s subscriber base and logged in viewers were under the age of 18, which meant that the audience was predominantly made up of adults with a high proportion being aged between 18 and 44 years old. They therefore believed that the tweet was not targeted at under 18s because they comprised only a minimal proportion of Spencer Owen’s audience.
Spencer Owen said that he was the vlogger who ran a YouTube channel called Spencer FC which consisted of football based videos. The campaign that was run in conjunction with BetBull, was a series of videos in which he predicted the correct scores for future football matches, and the tweet was used as additional amplification of the promotion contained within the series. Further, he explained that the content made for Spencer FC was aimed at viewers around his own age (29) and that he did not consider that the content he made was specifically targeted at children or under 18s. He stated that he used the detailed demographic breakdowns available on YouTube to confirm the age of the audience the videos on the channel reached and that based on those statistics they considered that under 18s were in the minority. He further explained that the link included within the promotional message contained a sign up process which required age verification which was used to ensure that only over 18s were able to take part in the promotion. He also provided a copy of the YouTube audience demographic breakdown.
CAP Code rule 16.3.13 16.3.13 be directed at those aged below 18 years (or 16 years for football pools, equal-chance gaming [under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre], prize gaming [at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair] or Category D gaming machines) through the selection of media or context in which they appear required that marketing communications for gambling must not be directed at those aged below 18 through the selection of media or context in which they appeared. The tweet was a promotion for BetBull that was linked to a series on the Spencer FC YouTube channel in which he predicted the scores of upcoming football matches.
The tweet was a non-paid for post, and therefore would only have been seen by Spencer Owen’s own followers and in the feeds of any followers of Twitter users who had either liked or retweeted the post. The ASA understood that because it was a non-paid for post, that neither Spencer FC nor BetBull would have been able to utilise the interest based targeting available on Twitter for paid for ads.
In considering the context in which the ad appeared, we noted that the content on the Spencer FC YouTube channel and associated Twitter feed was made up of football based videos and tweets. Although we acknowledged that they would be of appeal to some under 18s we did not consider that they would be of greater appeal to them than those in the target demographic of adult football fans. In general the channel content did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under 18s, did not feature under 18s and were dialogue heavy. Further, we understood that less than 25% of Spencer FC’s registered subscriber base and users who viewed his videos whilst logged in, were registered as being under 18. We did not have a basis on which to believe that there would be a significant difference between the demographic profile of users viewing Spencer FC’s videos whilst not logged in and his logged in or subscribed viewers, or a difference between that and his Twitter followers. Further, we understood that the age demographic break down for Spencer Owen’s Twitter followers was not available from Twitter analytics and therefore neither party was able to access such information. We therefore considered the advertisers had used the most robust demographic data available to them (that relating to the YouTube channel) when determining whether it was appropriate to place the ad on Spencer FC’s Twitter feed.
Taking into account both the nature of the channel and the demographic data available we concluded that the ad had been appropriately targeted and did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.1 16.1 Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited. and 16.3.13 16.3.13 be directed at those aged below 18 years (or 16 years for football pools, equal-chance gaming [under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre], prize gaming [at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair] or Category D gaming machines) through the selection of media or context in which they appear (Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.