From next year the Advertising Standards Authority will see its remit widened to include the regulation of online advertising, the organisation has confirmed.
The ASA already polices paid-for ads and promotions but from March 1st 2011 this will grow to include all marketing communications online including on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
It primarily assesses complaints relating to the rules regarding misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children.
Any breaches of the regulations can be punished by removal of the advertising and any pages that it links to as well as the possible placement of ASA ads that highlight any particular company’s non-compliance with the rules.
The new obligations are being funded by a 0.1 per cent levy on all paid-for ads on search engines.
“This significant extension of the ASA’s remit has the protection of children and consumers at its heart,” chairman Lord Chris Smith said.
“We have received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about marketing communications on websites that we couldn’t deal with, but from March 1st anyone who has a concern about a marketing communication online will be able to turn to the ASA.”
The ASA will be all too familiar to games marketers. In recent years it has banned a number of games adverts including TV sports for Stranglehold and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and, most recently, Final Fantasy XIII.
However, it has also ruled in favour of publishers many times including earlier this year when it rejected a number of complaints about Sony’s Heavy Rain TV run.
In February 2009 the ASA reported “video games are being advertised responsibly”, enjoying a compliance rate of over 99 per cent.