June 21, 2024
Put a smile on your Face(book) with responsible advertising

Now at almost 20 years old, YouGov still considers Facebook the most famous social network, and jointly the most popular with Instagram. It’s estimated that around 50% of UK consumers are Facebook users so it’s an attractive advertising prospect.

As the rules in the CAP Code are largely media neutral – from sponsored posts and promotional marketing to brand accounts and influencer marketing – the same rules and principles that apply in other media are equally applicable to advertising on Facebook. 

Avoid finding yourself face-to-face with an upheld ASA ruling with these key principles.

Lots of love for ad labels

As is true for all social media platforms, and indeed all media, advertising on Facebook – whether it’s a post from a brand about a product they sell or influencer or affiliate marketing content – must be obviously identifiable as advertising. 

The ASA haven’t ruled formally on any influencer marketing labelling issues on Facebook to date, but they have resolved a significant number of cases informally and cross apply relevant principles from other platforms. For more detailed guidance on the principles, see the ‘Influencers’ guide to making clear that ads are ads’ and our previous article here.

Always ‘meta’ to target the right crowd!

Ads must be socially responsible and part of this means protecting vulnerable people, in particular children. Targeting on Facebook, and of course across all media, is therefore important for protecting them from certain types of content, and for ensuring ads for age-restricted products do not target or appeal to children. Products with restrictions on placement and targeting include alcohol, gambling, HFSS foods, slimming regimes and cosmetic interventions. 

The ASA’s 100 Children Report found that at least 11% of the children monitored had set up social media accounts which falsely suggested they were over the age of 18, highlighting the importance of robust targeting on such platforms.

The ASA will always expect you to use all the tools available to target appropriately on any platform and ensure that you have taken all reasonable steps to avoid your ads being seen by someone who (for example) due to their age, shouldn’t. Where specific targeting tools are not available, for example, when working with an influencer, marketers should take into account robust evidence of the age demographic of the audience.

Facebook also now tends to be associated with a slightly older demographic, and the ASA has dealt with cases of advertising that targets those audiences with irresponsible and misleading messaging on the platform, including ads offering surgical ‘mommy makeovers’ in Turkey and life insurance for parents over 50 from lead generation companies. Marketers should carefully consider the use of language that speaks to the age and gender of their audience in advertising, unless there is a genuine reason to do, as they could risk misleading consumers or even perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

Don’t let your promotion cause a negative reaction

If you’re running a competition or prize draw on Facebook, make sure to follow the rules in Section 8, and in particular include all the significant terms and conditions that apply in any relevant posts. This includes the closing date for competitions, and communicating how and when winners need to claim their prize, so that entrants that can participate fully and avoid disappointment.

Promotions must always be administered fairly and, amongst other things, promoters need to be able to demonstrate that all prizes were awarded as described, and also publish information indicating a valid award took place with details of the prize winners.

For more on this topic, see our resources here.

Need a friend?

For bespoke guidance on any Facebook campaigns, our Copy Advice team are happy to offer some friendly advice.


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