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Consumer complaints against digital marketers rocket

28 Sep 2011 2:14 BST Back
Consumer complaints against digital marketers rocket
DMA News

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recorded a surge in complaints made about companies’ digital marketing comms, new figures have revealed.

As first reported by Marketing Week, the number of complaints received across all channels between 1 March and 23 September 2011 topped 18,369 – a rise of 30% on the figures during the same period in 2010. More than 5,500 complaints alone were made in the seven months since the ASA’s remit was extended to cover the non-paid for digital marketing sphere, such as social media and brands’ own websites.

The chief culprits behind the complaints were SMEs, accounting for 80% of consumer complaints lodged with the advertising watchdog. No one business sector stands out as an offender, with blame being spread equally across the retail, leisure and telecoms sectors, among others. 

The ASA’s chief executive Guy Parker told Marketing Week that these figures far exceeded their expectations, but denied that they signify the internet is like an ‘unregulated “wild west”’. 

“It is dream land if people think that all [companies] will be immediately compliant. There is a long tail that don’t know yet about the changes.”

Parker adds that the ASA is considering how to educate SMEs to reduce the number of consumer complaint, but concedes that it “has to be realistic about what it can achieve.”

The ASA estimates that the total number of complaints will reach 32,000 in 2011, up from 25,214 in 2010.

Earlier this month, the DMA reported on the changes to the ASA's CAP Code, extending its remit to include non-paid for digital marketing. 

By Neil Turner

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