HomeInsightsAdvertising Standards Authority publishes latest report on children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol and gambling products

Article by

The ASA says that its preferred approach when monitoring exposure to age-restricted ads is to analyse robust industry-standard data. Accordingly, the ASA’s latest report on children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol and gambling products is based on “commercial impacts” data: one person, seeing one ad, at one time. This data is provided by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) and is based on its panel of 5,300 UK homes.

In recent years, BARB has adapted its methodologies to expand its measurement of the time spent viewing TV and viewing of programmes to also include broadcaster video-on-demand services, such as BBC iPlayer, and viewing across tablets, smartphones and PCs. It also now reports on the total time spent viewing subscription video-on-demand services, such as Netflix and Disney, and video-sharing platforms like TikTok, Twitch and YouTube. Viewing of advertisements on these devices, services or platforms, however, is not currently measured.

The report shows that children are seeing fewer ads for gambling and alcohol products on TV, in a continuing downward trend. The ASA has, for the first time, also broken the data down by nation, revealing differences across the UK for a more complete picture.

Overall, between 2010 and 2021:

  • children’s exposure to all TV ads in the period fell by almost two-thirds, from 226.7 ads per week in 2010 to 82.8 ads per week in 2021; they also saw fewer TV ads than adults, around one ad for every four seen by adults;
  • children’s exposure to alcohol advertising on TV decreased by three-quarters, from an average of 3.2 ads per week in 2010 to 0.8 ads per week in 2021; this is a faster rate of decline than children’s exposure to all TV ads; and
  • exposure to gambling ads on TV over the same period decreased by just over a quarter from an average of 3.0 ads per week in 2010 to 2.2 ads per week in 2021; exposure to gambling ads relative to adults’ has fallen year-on-year, from 36.0% in 2010 to 15.4% in 2021.

When it comes to online regulation, however, there is no comparative, industry-standard data for children’s exposure to ads due to the nature of the internet. In the absence of such data, the ASA has focused instead on using technology to proactively identify age-restricted ads that, in breach of the advertising rules, are placed in children’s media online and served to children’s social media accounts.

The ASA says that its next research study, “The 100 Children Report”, will provide a child’s eye view of the ads that children see online. Working with a panel of 100 children aged 11-17, from across the UK, the ASA says that it will be able to identify and take action against age-restricted ads served inappropriately to children’s websites and their social media accounts. Building on a study the regulator undertook in 2013, this work should provide a broader insight into the real-world experiences of children. To access the report, click here. For further information on how the ASA measures exposure, click here.