Big changes are afoot concerning advertising and marketing regulations in the United Kingdom, including some associated with e-mail, blogs and social networking Web sites.
Regulations effective on May 26 in the U.K. are intended to clamp down on unfair sales and marketing practices. It all falls under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act of 2008, a new British law.
New rules ban 31 practices outright, while expanding regulation of e-mail, paid Internet advertising and potentially other Internet media.
Advertorial product placements and marketing messages distributed through Internet blogs will be subject to the new regulations, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising IPA, a British-based trade group.
Starting next month it will be a crime in the U.K. to falsely misrepresent oneself as a consumer and seed positive messages about products on blogs. Likewise, it will be illegal to give the impression that information is being presented without the intention of making a sale.
Perhaps the greatest danger involves advertisers and agencies that do viral, word-of mouth or “buzz marketing” who continue to believe such activities are unregulated, leaving themselves liable to fines and prison sentences under the new regulations, according to the IPA.
“While many advertisers will choose to continue with such campaigns and get away with them, due to the sheer size and problems of enforcement, this is in my view, risky and undesirable,” said in a statement Marina Palomba, IPA