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ASAS issues new guidelines for digital and social media marketing

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Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has issued new guidelines to set the standards on advertising and marketing communication appearing on interactive and social media.The formation of the guidelines follows feedback received on 91 occasions in 2015 about advertisements that were seen on the Internet and personal mobile devices, compared to 45 in 2014. According to the feedback received, some consumers were misled by discounts and rates that were not as attractive as advertised, false depictions of products in pictures or questionable claims about product efficacy.Marketers and media owners will be given until 29 September 2016 to adhere to the guidelines, a grace period of one month.Here are the following requirements set by the new guidelinesDisclosures of commercial relationships and disclaimers should be made prominent, easy to understand and appropriate for the form that the communication takes;Paid reviews, testimonials and endorsements have to be clearly indicated;Reviews that are disguised as being from impartial sources are not permitted; andThe use of services and methods that fraudulently boost user engagement is prohibited.The guidelines are to be read with the rest of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), to which they will be added with immediate effect. They were developed in consultation with social media agencies, public agencies, multinational companies and members of the public.It will help set the standards of ethical conduct and establish levels of disclosure required for sponsored messages appearing on social media. It will also prohibit false reviews engagement and dictate the clarity of the purchase process in e-commerce.According to ASAS, marketers who fail to comply with the guidelines will be instructed to amend their marketing communication and failing to withdraw them altogether to avoid misleading consumers.They will also risk the withholding of advertising space or time by media owners, as well as the withdrawal of trading privileges from advertising agencies.Marketers who fail to comply with the guidelines will be instructed to amend their marketing communication, failing to do so will result in removal of the ads altogether.In the case of bloggers, they risk the withholding of monies by their agencies. In extreme cases, there is the additional sanction of adverse publicity through the publication of details of the outcome of ASAS’ investigation.Under certain circumstances, CASE may also take further action under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.ASAS is an advisory council to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).View the guidelines here. 

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