Insights Committee of Advertising Practice publishes brief guide to ad regulation in the “Metaverse”


The “Metaverse” is hotly tipped as the next big technological revolution and, CAP says, could potentially see the most significant epoch shift in advertising since the rise of social media, if not the internet itself. CAP explains that currently the Metaverse remains more a concept than a tangible “thing”, but ultimately it anticipates a significant shift in how people interact with technology by blurring the “real” and “digital” worlds to an extent not experienced before.

Many of the elements that will likely form the basis of the Metaverse already exist:

  • virtual worlds (computer-generated environments that allow users to socially interact with others);
  • virtual reality (using technology to interact in a seemingly “real” way with a computer-generated environment);
  • augmented reality (overlaying the “real world” with digitally created content); and
  • digital economies (cryptocurrencies and NFTs).

However, CAP says, the Metaverse intends to take these elements further and weave them into a virtual space that expands beyond the boundaries of one service or product, with the ultimate aim being a “cyber-Universe” that can be interacted with as easily as the world we live in, with all the advantages (and disadvantages) that entails.

CAP recognises that the Metaverse promises advertisers new and exciting ways of marketing their goods and services. This raises issues for ad regulation. CAP says that it already has a strong track record of handling significant changes in the technological landscape, from its regulation of paid-for internet ads to its remit extension to cover other online content in 2011, and its investment in data science that allows it to regulate these areas more efficiently and pro-actively. Last year, CAP published guidance on in-game purchases, which contains concepts likely to be highly relevant to the Metaverse, and earlier this year, it published guidance on advertising cryptoassets.

Ultimately, however, CAP expects that many of the issues likely to arise, whether they relate to the identification of marketing, the targeting of under-18s, or the absence of significant information, will be similar to those it sees in the real world, and can be dealt with via existing principles in the CAP Code. The era of the Metaverse may well be upon us, CAP says, but advertisers should remember that the CAP Code applies as much to realms of data as it does to those of bricks and mortar. To read CAP’s guide in full, click here.