Insights Age restricted ads online – updated guidance


The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has updated its guidance on age-restricted online advertisements (the “Guidance”) with the aim of supporting marketers and affiliates in demonstrating compliance with the Committee of Advertising Practice codes (“CAP Code”).

The Guidance recommends the use of ad-tech to restrict under 18s exposure to age-restricted marketing communications, including those for gambling products and services. The ASA recommends that the Guidance is read in conjunction with the ASA’s general guidance on media placement restrictions, which can be accessed here.

The ASA suggests that it is unlikely that targeting communications on the basis of age data alone would satisfy the requirements of CAP’s media placement restrictions, given the likelihood of children and young persons accessing shared devices or misreporting their age in order to establish a user account on a platform. As such, the ASA suggests that marketers should use this data in combination with (i) other criteria intended to exclude certain communications from being accessible by/to particular age categories (in much the same way that criteria is used to target specific demographics); and (ii) the relevant platform’s available tools and ad targeting systems, in order to avoid potential breaches of the CAP Code.

The ASA also recommends that marketers and affiliates (i) maintain a record, or otherwise be able to account for communications published; and (ii) exclude age-restricted media from ad placements where the marketer has direct control over where the ad appears.

Given an operator’s obligation to ensure gambling products and services are undertaken in compliance with the CAP Code, the Guidance is of particular importance and operators should ensure that arrangements in place with marketers and affiliates include obligations on them to comply with such standards. Further, over the last year, the GB Gambling Commission (“Commission”) has actively recommended that the industry use and deploy ad-tech to proactively target online gambling away from vulnerable persons (including children and young persons). For example, in last year’s Industry Challenges progress update, the Commission recommended that one of the ways in which the industry could shield vulnerable groups from advertising which would be harmful to them was by adopting a common list of industry negative search terms. Likewise, the Guidance provides examples on how marketers can ensure that content does not fall foul of the CAP Code and this should be taken into careful consideration.