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2021

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Advertising a lack of respect for privacy...

ASA disgracefully demands that advertisers snoop on people's browsing habits (with dubiously obtained, if any, consent) so as to avoid serving some adverts to children


Link Here28th July 2021
ASA is demanding that advertisers snoop on people's browsing habits so as to build up a profile of people, so as to determine their age and suitability for advertising for gambling, alcohol and frowned upon food products. ASA was particularly considering advertising on websites that appeal to all ages, and so the subject matter of the website is not enough context to determine the age of users.

And good luck to the snoopers if they think they can infer that Facebook and Twitter users are over 13s and that Pornhub users are all adults.

ASA explained:

We have published the findings of our latest proactive monitoring sweep, making world-leading use of Avatar technology to assess the distribution of ads for alcohol, gambling, and high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products in websites and YouTube channels attracting a mixed-age audience, predominantly composed of adults.

As a result of our findings, we are calling on advertisers to make better use of audience and media targeting tools to help minimise children's exposure to age-restricted ads in mixed-age sites.

The monitoring underpinning this project was focused on:

  • Mixed-age online media - consisting of non-logged in websites and YouTube channels, with adults comprising 75%-90% of the audience

  • Dynamically served ads for alcohol, gambling and HFSS products; the underlying technology used to serve these ads enables advertisers to target subsets of the sites' audience based on data known or inferred about them e.g. their age, location, online browsing interests etc.

We used Avatars for the purpose of identifying trends in how these ads are being delivered to adult, child and/or age-unknown audience groups. The Avatars are constructed to reflect the online browsing profile of these age groups, but their automated actions -- visiting 250 web pages on both desktop and mobile devices, twice a day -- are obviously not indicative of real world online behaviours.

This explains why our six uniquely age-categorised Avatars received 27,395 ads , published on 250 sites , over a three week monitoring period. These high figures clearly do not reflect real-world exposure levels to advertising, but the data does give us a good basis for assessing whether age-restricted ads are being targeted away from children in online media attracting a heavily weighted (75%+) adult audience.

We found that:

  • Gambling ads were served in broadly similar numbers to Child and Adult Avatars, with no significant skew towards the adult profiles. The Neutral Avatar (which has no browsing history to provide indicative age information) was served noticeably fewer Gambling ads in mixed-age media

  • HFSS ads were served in broadly similar numbers to Child and Adult Avatars, with no significant skew towards the adult profiles, and notably higher numbers of ads served to the Neutral Avatar

  • Alcohol ads were not served to any Avatars

Advertisers are not allowed to serve age-restricted ads in children's media (sites commissioned for children, or where children make up 25% or more of the audience), but these ads are allowed in mixed-age media attracting a heavily weighted (75%+) adult audience, so long as they stick to strict rules to ensure the creative content of the ads don't appeal to children or exploit their inexperience.

We, however, believes it is a legitimate regulatory objective to seek to minimise children's exposure to age-restricted ads generally and therefore wants to see advertisers of these products use available tools to more effectively target their ads away from children, even where the vast majority of an audience is over 18.

 

 

Offsite Article: Sadiq is turning London into a nanny state...


Link Here7th April 2021
Full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship
Now the patronising mayor wants to ban gambling ads. By Jon Bryan

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Problem snooping...

The Gambling Commission consult on a despicable proposal requiring bookies to investigate the financial standings of their online customers


Link Here6th February 2021
The Gambling Commission has a problem. It holds gambling business in utter contempt and thinks that bookies are suitable private companies to forcibly and invasively snoop into people's financial affairs.

The Racing Post editor explains better than the Gambling Commission how this proposal will pan out:

Nothing to worry about, then. Just a perfectly normal proposal that a non-governmental quango staffed by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats -- not even civil servants -- will determine a loss level at which you and I should be subject to checks on our personal finances. Just a demand that in order to continue betting if a couple of 25 each-way punts go awry, we must share payslips and bank statements with our bookie.

Well! Most punters would tell any betting operator asking for such invasive details of one's financial affairs to go whistle, but imagine for a second that you would subject yourself to such an illiberal and demeaning process. How would your capacity to bet be assessed? The Gambling Commission's consultation document gives some clues, and its suggestions should horrify punters and anyone who cares about the rights of the individual to manage their own affairs without overweening state interference.

First, it is essential to note that while proponents of affordability checks would have you believe these can take place seamlessly and without any inconvenience to punters by utilising information betting operators already hold or can access from credit agencies, the Gambling Commission states this is not the case, noting we would want to be clear that it is still likely that operators will need to collect information directly from customers.

So, let's say you are a daily 10 punter and after a fortnight of middling-to-poor results you hit the prospective 100 threshold for affordability checks. You reluctantly and with grave reservations hand over your most sensitive financial documents for review. How does the operator decide if you are barred from betting for the rest of the month and subject to punting restrictions for evermore?

According to the Gambling Commission, the most relevant way of assessing your capacity to bet before beginning to experience harms is through assessing what it calls discretionary income. This is what you have left each month after spending on essentials like taxes, bills, food and housing. Crucially, however, the commission adds it would not be expected that anyone could spend their entire discretionary income on gambling without experiencing harms.

As such, the Gambling Commission is not just suggesting your financial affairs should be subject to the sort of scrutiny you might find uncomfortable coming from your spouse, never mind Sky Bet, but that the sum of money you have left after meeting all obligations and purchasing all essentials still cannot be used as you see fit. This is a naked admission that this is not about affordability, but about prohibitionism and control.

Meanwhile there as an additional takeout from reading the consultation paper:

  • Bettors should simply never use bookies forums. The bookies are expected to crawl through people's conversations looking clues about people's mental state. So if you comment that you are a bit depressed that your bet failed you may find that you get banned on grounds of clinical depression.
  • Similarly bettors should think very carefully about what they tell bookies via helpline conversations or via messaging services. It is clear that the bookie's staff will be listening to every word wondering if what you say can be interpreted as some sort of clue about personal or financial difficulties.
  • Bettors should also consider whether using self control mechanisms such as staking limits or time outs may be interpreted as some sort of admission that bettors need to be closely surveilled.

 

 

When a distraction is construed as a harm...

Advert censor ludicrously bans a Ladbrokes advert showing a bettor being distracted by a race on TV


Link Here2nd February 2021

A VOD ad for Ladbrokes, seen on All4 on 25 October 2020, showed various people using the Ladbrokes app on their mobile phones. One scene showed a clip of a horse race, before showing a man in a cafe with several other people, looking away from them at something else in the distance, over the shoulder of one of them. A voice-over stated, Come starter's orders, I'm a bag of nerves. The man's leg was shaking, making the food and cutlery on the table shake. A woman said to him, Really?, capturing his attention briefly, before he turned away again.

A single complainant challenged whether the ad depicted gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.

Ladbrokes did not believe the ad depicted socially irresponsible behaviour because the man was not shown placing a bet nor indeed talking about gambling. He was simply stating that he got nervous ahead of starter's orders which would be his natural reaction whether or not he was gambling. They said the ad featured people in everyday situations, and characters continuing with life in normal day-to-day activities.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The CAP Code stated that ads must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. CAP's Advertising Guidance on Gambling advertising: responsibility and problem gambling made clear that ads which portrayed or otherwise referred to individuals displaying problem gambling behaviours or other behavioural indicators linked to problem gambling were likely to breach the Code.

Marketers should take care to avoid an implication of such behaviours, for instance, outwardly light-hearted or humorous approaches that could be regarded as portrayals of those behaviours. Behaviours associated with people displaying or at risk from problem gambling included detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.

We noted Clearcast's view that the ad implied the man was watching a race on television, and we agreed that based on the scene and the simultaneous voice-over referring to starter's orders, viewers were likely to interpret the ad as showing him watching the television as the race was about to begin. He was watching intently, and his shaking the table with his knee which, while clearly intended to be humorous, suggested he was preoccupied with the race while his food remained untouched. He was described as being a bag of nerves, which we considered viewers were likely to interpret was as a result of his having placed a bet on the race. It was clear that he was engrossed in the race to the extent that his companion had to point out his actions to bring his attention away from watching the television. We noted that, after responding to his companion, he appeared to turn away, though the shot was brief and he was looking down. We disagreed with Clearcast's view that the man was never disconnected from his companion, or from the room, and considered viewers would assume from his behaviour that he was preoccupied with the outcome of the race in relation to a bet he had placed. We also considered that the man was obviously detached from his surroundings as he watched.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad depicted gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, and therefore breached the Code.


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