‘Safe harbour’ scheme gives on-line advertisers credibility

Small businesses are not always able to compete with their larger competitors on price, but there are other ways to differentiate themselves and capture a potential consumer's eye.

Establishing a good reputation and implementing an effective advertising strategy are two means of attracting the attention of a potential customer.

By joining the admark scheme, a business can illustrate that it adheres to ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful advertising’ by displaying an admark logo on its on-line advertising. The business’s reputation, and that of its brands, is enhanced and consumer confidence in the advertiser is boosted. Increased consumer confidence equals more effective advertising which can lead to increased sales and profitability.

The initiative, developed by the Committee of Advertising Practice, the industry body that writes and enforces the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion (the Codes), grew out of a need to provide a ‘safe harbour’ scheme for on-line advertising that lets consumers know who has pledged to follow advertising’s rules. It has been welcomed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which administers the Codes.

ASA marketing executive Ryan Taylor commented, “Research has shown that there was some doubt about the credibility of e-commerce, about aspects such as on-line security. This on-line scheme is to increase consumer confidence in on-line advertising and e-commerce’.

Members can both boost their credibility and distinguish themselves from competitors which are not admark members. The scheme also provides an additional source of market research, as members can receive “general statistical data on consumers’ use of the admark website”.

As Taylor explained, admark covers on-line advertising in ‘paid-for’ space, such as banner ads, commercial e-mails and on-line sales promotions, anywhere. Publishers of ads can also be members. The scheme operates on an opt-in basis, and although members have to observe the Codes, they are not obliged to have their on-line advertisements and promotions checked in advance. However, if an ad does need changing, the amendments need to be made immediately.

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