kids advertising

Targeted advertising technology means children are at risk of remaining exposed to online junk food ads even after they are banned under new rules coming into force this summer, according to regulators.

As from 1 July, the Committee of Advertising Practice is outlawing any ad for high fat, salt or sugar products with audiences made up of 25% or more under-16s, in a ban covering all non-broadcast media, such as print, cinema and online, including social media.

But the CAP said it was updating its guidance so food and drink companies did not find themselves breaking the rules. This was because of the latest technology beaming ads automatically to children’s tablets and smartphones based on their web usage, as a growing number of children consume media in social networks.

It said the rise of social media and targeted advertising technology used by websites meant many children were being exposed to food and drink ads that would be covered by the ban.

The new guidance will also cover targeted advertising being used by alcohol and gambling companies.

“We recognise that technology changes and we must keep up,” said S CAP director Shahriar Coupal.

“We think there are certain steps that can be taken to reduce targeting of children, whether that be from alcohol, gambling or HFSS marketing.”

A CAP spokeswoman added: “CAP will soon be publishing additional, dedicated guidance for certain types of online media.

“It will provide marketers with more advice on how interest-based targeting can be used to help reduce children’s exposure to age-restricted marketing communications in online environments such as social media platforms, and better secure against inappropriate targeting of ads.”

“The guidance will cover age-restricted ads online such as alcohol, gambling and tobacco. When the HFSS rules come into force on 1 July 2017, the age restriction of under-16s will be covered.”

CAP’s move comes as HFSS advertising to children came under the spotlight this week, with Labour vowing it would extend the TV watershed and impose a complete ban on any “junk” advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed.

However, regulatory bosses and health groups responded by saying more children were consuming media online than on television, making Labour’s move outdated.