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Add a Online adverts attract more complaints than TV ads for first time ever, says watchdog

Advertising Standards Agency highlights an alcohol and gambling ads directed at children

Online adverts have attracted more complaints that television ads for the first time, the industry watchdog has said.

Internet adverts attracted 10,932 complaints last year compared to 9,466 for TV.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) highlighted an alcohol ad directed at children via Snapchat and promotional material on gambling firms’ websites that was likely to appeal to underage consumers.

Overall, the ASA ordered companies to remove a record 7,099 ads that breached guidelines last year while the total number of complaints it received jumped 14 per cent on the year before.

The watchdog has recently announced a number of targeted efforts to protect consumers, including tougher rules around misleading broadband speed claims and for ticket reselling websites that add on “service charges” at the checkout. 

Both sets of rules are due to come into force 

The ASA said it would target other types of deceptive online ads this year such as those with sensational, news-like or clickbait headlines that link to websites selling unrelated products.

It has already taken action against “free trial” promotions that trap consumers into subscriptions as well as holiday adverts offering prices that aren't actually available.

Last month the ASA launched a crackdown on social media influencers who promote brands to their followers without clearly labeling their posts as commercial.

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