Education sector, influencers lead ad violations: ASCI

The education sector continues to remain the biggest violator of the advertising code followed by personal care, food & beverages, healthcare, and gaming, categories, said a new report by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). In its half-yearly complaints report, advertising’s self-regulatory body ASCI said the total number of complaints against various ads increased 14% between April and September this year compared to 2021-2022. During the period, it processed 3,340 complaints against 2764 advertisements that were in potential violation of the ASCI code, it said.

Majority of the ads (nearly 55%), were spotted across the digital domain, followed by 39% in print and 5% on television. In the digital space, ASCI took up 32.8% of complaints from web, mobile apps, e-commerce, followed by 27.4% from Instagram and 24.3% from YouTube.

The report said that education remained the most violative sector with 27% of the complaints related to both the classical education category and the ed tech sector. In its earlier report for FY21-22, ASCI had said the education companies made up 33% of all complaints by consumers.

Of consumer complaints, 98% were received by the artificial-intelligence-based complaints management system, its said. Nearly 16% of the total complaints recorded were from consumers, followed by 15% from the government, while intra-industry complaints comprised 3%. Of the 2,764 potentially objectionable ads processed, 32% were not contested by the advertisers. While 59% ads were found to be in violation of the ASCI code, 8% were found not to be violating the code.

ASCI’s advertising code asks companies and brands to self-regulate, which requires ads to be legal, decent and truthful. Manisha Kapoor, ASCI’s CEO and secretary-general said: “Of the total complaints received, 28% of the violations were by influencers. Of the 781 complaints processed against influencers, 34% were from the personal care category, followed by food and beverage at 17%, and virtual digital assets at 10 %. Looking at the rapid growth of digital advertising, we have invested heavily in ad-surveillance technology.“

About 87% of advertisements pertaining to influencers were found to be in violation of its influencer guidelines.

Advertising spends in India are projected to grow at 15.2% in 2023 and 15.7% in 2024, the highest for any market in the world. In 2022, Indian advertising will grow at 16%, said a report by Dentsu titled ‘Global Ad Spend Forecasts.’ The Indian advertising market will hit $11.1 billion in 2022, led primarily by digital advertising which will grow 31.6% and television ads which are expected to increase at 14.5%.

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