CAP issues updated guidance on targeting advertising online for age-restricted products

November 17, 2022

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published updated guidance for advertisers on how to target age-restricted ads responsibly online.

Through content, media placement and audience targeting restrictions, the advertising rules place a particular emphasis on protecting children and young people from potentially harmful, irresponsible or inappropriate ads. Alchohol, gambling and other age-restricted ads must not be directed at children (under-16s) and young people (aged 16 and 17), depending on the products advertised, and must not appear alongside media where children and/or young people form more than 25% of the audience. Under the CAP Code, advertisers have ultimate responsibility for ensuring age-restricted campaigns are targeted in accordance with the rules.

To avoid breaching the CAP Code’s requirements on media for children or children and young people, marketers are strongly advised to:

  • identify categories targeted at, or commissioned for the protected age group within the chosen online environment;
  • exclude such media from their ad placements when they have direct control over where ads appear, and/or
  • use the available ad tech tools to ensure age-restricted ads are not placed alongside media intended for the protected age group.

The ASA will shortly be publishing research findings of children’s real-world exposure to age-restricted ads online. Where these findings suggest more may have been done to reduce the likelihood of children being exposed to age-restricted ads, the ASA will follow up with the relevant advertisers to highlight the checklist in the new guidance.