Complaints about internet advertising in Britain have risen 35 per cent over the past 12 months and, in doing, so overtaken television as the most complained about advertising medium.
According to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) complaints about online ads rose 3,500 to 13,477 with most complaints to do with misleading content than anything controversial or offensive.
Complaints about advertising in general in the UK rose by a fifth in 2014 to just over 37,000 complaints overall.
One ad by travel company Booking.com that had a swear word bleeped out with the word “booking” caused such ire it was personally responsible for sending complaints to do with cinema advertising soaring by 106 per cent year on year. The ad is reportedly the second-most complained about ad in British history.
ASA’s annual report said: “We’re responding to and ensuring we keep pace with the rapidly changing media landscape, such as our ongoing work with vloggers.”
“The importance of that is underlined by the fact that, for the first time, the internet overtook television as the most complained about medium with 13,477 complaints about 10,202 ads, an increase of 35 per cent from 2013.”
However a spokesperson for ASA, quoted in the The Independent, said the number of companies complained about were down, just the number of actual complaints about them were up. While complaints about TV advertising was also down year on year. “Social media platforms helped mobilise mass complaints about a small handful of controversial ads, but the total number of ads complained about was actually down,” the spokesperson said.
Of most alarm, ASA reported, was fake advertising sites pretending to offer government services such as passport renewals and charging for the service.
A promotion by The Sun newspaper, that offered readers a date with one of its famed page three girls, was also reported to be one of the most complained about ads for 2014.