The UK advertising regulatory body has warned local gambling companies that most content marketing communications are categorised as marketing, which means that they must abide by the watchdog’s rules, although there are some exceptions.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has noted that research over whether its rules apply to gambling companies’ content marketing on social media has raised some questions. The advertising regulator noted that such content does not openly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in the company’s products or services. According to the ASA, this posed a challenge as the watchdog regulates advertising in the UK but is given no power to regulate so-called editorial content.
As noted by the ASA, social media includes a variety of content, as marketers try to inform, entertain and promote their wider brand identity and their products and services. Arguably, sports betting are at the forefront of this approach, as they use popular social media, such as Twitter, to raise significant engagement with their followers.
The UK advertising regulatory body explained that social media accounts of gambling operators sometimes include editorial-style content, such as opinions or commentary on certain events, or some kind of more abstract humour, such as memes, for example. Researchers have described this as content marketing which, however, does not use any direct product references, links to gambling operators’ online platforms, or calls to action.
Still, the Advertising Standards Authority noted that most of the content marketing used by operators is still aimed at seeking a product or service, so it falls under its regulatory scope.
So-Called Editorial-Style Content Can Hardly Be Controlled and Regulated by the ASA
The UK advertising watchdog regulates commercial communications on marketer’s own online platforms that are likely to have the effect of selling a product or a service, and such content can be considered advertising. As mentioned above, the ASA, however, is unable to regulate absolutely everything in the online space, so the aforementioned editorial content is among the exclusions.
The Advertising Standards Authority noted there was a potential for some social media content to not be included in the enforcement remit of the regulator in case it is considered not to be directly linked to the supply of the advertised gambling product. Such a thing is likely to happen in cases when there are no direct or considerable indirect references to operators’ gambling products.
On the other hand, the ASA noted that the rules for gambling promotions still apply to messages that are under its remit. Such rules involve some limitations for gambling companies to target under-18s with their adverts or to use individuals who are under 25 years of age in significant roles in their marketing campaigns. Promotion of irresponsible gambling is also forbidden, while the companies’ advertising materials must make sure they are not appealing to children or young people.
The last rule, however, is set to be altered by the competent authorities following some calls for higher standards to be implemented in order to reduce the strong appeal that gambling advertising materials could have on potential customers. Under the upcoming change, gambling operators will no longer be able to use figures popular with children even if they are currently more popular among adult customers.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.