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ASA: Kids’ exposure to gambling & alcohol ads remains low

May 22, 2020

UK advertising regulator the ASA has published its latest report on children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol and gambling, providing exposure figures for 2019.

The UK advertising rules contain scheduling restrictions designed to reduce significantly under-18s’ exposure to ads for age-restricted product categories such as alcohol and gambling. Reflecting that, reporting on exposure data forms part of the ASA’s ongoing commitment to making sure the rules are working effectively to protect children, and young and vulnerable people.

The report reveals a further decline in children’s exposure to all TV ads which is likely to be driven by a decrease in TV viewing amongst children. But it also suggests that children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol is falling at a faster rate than their exposure to all TV ads. Meanwhile, children’s exposure to gambling advertising on TV has returned to similar levels observed at the beginning of the analysis period (2008).

Further analysis of the TV alcohol advertising exposure data shows that:

  • Between 2008 and 2019 children’s exposure to TV alcohol ads has decreased by two thirds, from an average of 2.8 to an average of 0.9 ads per week
  • The average number of alcohol ads children saw on TV in 2019  has remained stable and at similar levels to those observed in the four previous years
  • Children’s exposure to alcohol ads on TV, relative to adults’, continues to fall from the peak of 41.1 per cent in 2008 to 19.6 per cent in 2019.  This means that in 2019, children saw, on average, around one alcohol ad for every five seen by adults
  • In 2019, 0.8 per cent of all TV ads seen by children were alcohol ads.  This percentage has remained below 1 per cent since 2015

The exposure data on TV gambling ads shows that:

  • In 2019, children saw, on average, 2.5 TV gambling ads per week: they saw 2.2 and 2.7 gambling ads on TV per week in 2008 and 2009, respectively
  • Children’s exposure to gambling ads peaked in 2013 (at an average of 4.4 ads per week) since when it has decreased by just under half
  • Children’s exposure to gambling advertising on TV has remained at similar levels during the last six years, notwithstanding that exposure levels rose slightly in 2018
  • Gambling ads made up less than 2 per cent of all the TV ads that children saw, on average, in a week every year between 2008 and 2017.  This increased slightly to 2.2 per cent in 2018 and remained at a similar level in 2019, at 2.1 per cent

Although the findings suggest the TV ad rules are continuing to help appropriately limit children’s exposure to age-restricted ads, the ASA is mindful of children’s shifting media consumption habits – likely to be driven by their increasing consumption of online media, such as on-demand and online video use, as well as social media engagement – and the need to remain vigilant in policing ads for age-restricted products in other media, in particular online. In parallel the ASA has been harnessing new technology to proactively monitor children’s exposure to ads online and taking quick and effective action where it identifies any problems.

“Our latest report shows that children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol and gambling products remains low,” noted ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker. “We will continue our proactive monitoring to make sure this remains the case for TV ads as well as carrying out further monitoring online so that we limit children’s exposure to age-restricted ads wherever they appear.”

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