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Surpassing education sector, real-money gaming industry becomes biggest ad violator: ASCI

92% of gaming advertisements reviewed by ASCI for FY 2022–23 did not adhere to the guidelines. The sector was also the least compliant with only 50% of ads being modified voluntarily after they have been called out

ASCI’s annual complaints report shows that the real-money gaming industry surpassed the education sector to emerge as the most violative sector, moving from fifth to first place. 

The report stated that an astounding number (92%) of gaming advertisements reviewed by ASCI for FY 2022–23 did not adhere to the guidelines for real money gaming. It failed to inform consumers about the risks of financial loss and addiction. 

The sector also gained the dubious distinction of being the least complaint, with only 50% of ads being modified voluntarily after they have been called out.

It may be remembered that ASCI released its guidelines for the real-money gaming sector in December 2020, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting thereafter released an advisory asking all parties to comply with the guidelines.

Healthcare, personal care, crypto other key violative sectors. Celebrities continue to mislead consumers. There was an 803% increase in ads processed against celebrities (503 ads). 1 in every 4 ads processed by ASCI had an influencer violation.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released its annual complaints report for 2022-23 which contains several startling observations, especially those pertaining to advertising in the digital space. 

During the period, ASCI reviewed 7,928 advertisements across different media, including print, digital and television. ASCI has stepped up its scrutiny of ads nearly two folds over the last two years. This is, ASCI receives a 17% increase in complaints.

TV and print advertisers continued to be highly compliant at 94%, however, the overall compliance is lower at 81% due to digital. Hence, digital ads emerged not just as a leading violator, with 75% of ads processed being from the digital space, but also as the least compliant. This raises serious concerns about the safety of consumers in the online space, said ASCI.

The report also revealed a sharp increase in the number of misleading ads featuring celebrities. ASCI processed 503 such ads, as opposed to 55 the previous year, a growth of 803%. In 97% of these ads, the celebrities failed to provide evidence of due diligence as mandated by the Consumer Protection Act. This again is a serious issue as ads featuring celebrities greatly impact consumers.

In addition, influencer violations stood at 26%, with 2,039 complaints being processed against them. Categories, including personal care, food and beverage and fashion and lifestyle, topped the list of influencer-related violations.

NS Rajan, Chairman, ASCI, observed, “The digital advertising landscape is truly challenging us all and ASCI is no exception. Stepping up our surveillance through AI-based tools and a robust complaint management system has ensured that ASCI is keeping pace with this dynamic environment. Updating our codes to reflect newer consumer concerns makes sure the ASCI codes remain contemporary. We will continue to act as the conscience keeper of the Indian ad industry with transparency and future-facing expertise.”

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, added, “The complaints analysis for 2022–23 clearly shows that the digital medium is leading in violative ads. This raises significant concerns about online consumer safety and trust. Advertisers, content creators and platforms must come together to address this issue on an urgent basis to protect consumer interests. In addition, the sharp increase in the number of violative gaming ads needs serious attention from the industry.”

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