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25% of ads processed in FY23 had violations by influencers: ASCI

One in every four ads processed by the Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci) in 2022-23 had a violation by influencers, it said in a report on Wednesday. During the year, the self-regulatory body processed a total of 2,039 (26 per cent of the total) complaints against them, and personal care ads topped the list of the most ad violations by influencers. It was followed by food & beverage and fashion & lifestyle.

Moreover, the real-money gaming industry was the most violative sector of advertisement guidelines in 2021-22, and 92 per cent of gaming ads did not adhere to the rules, the report said. The sector was also the least complaint, with only 50 per cent of ads being modified voluntarily after they were called out.

According to the “Annual Complaints Report 2022-23”, 92 per cent of gaming ads missed adding the required disclaimer that informs consumers of the financial and addiction risks. The education and healthcare sectors followed the gaming sector regarding the number of ad violations.

The list of violators in gaming has names like MPL, WinZo, My11Circle and PokerBaazi.

The Asci had released its guidelines for the real-money gaming sector in December 2020, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting later released an advisory asking all parties to comply with those guidelines.

Asci reviewed 7,928 ads in total across different sectors and media. Digital media emerged as the least complaint.

“TV and print advertisers continued to be highly compliant at 94 per cent, however, the overall compliance is lower at 81 per cent due to digital,” it said.

“The complaints analysis for 2022–23 clearly shows that the digital medium is leading in terms of 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,” said Manisha Kapoor, chief executive officer (CEO) and secretary general of Asci. “In addition, the sharp increase in the number of violative gaming ads needs serious attention from the industry.”

The report also revealed a sharp increase in misleading ads featuring celebrities. The number of such ads rose to 803 per cent from 55 in 2021-22 to 503 in 2022-23. In 97 per cent of these ads, the celebrities failed to provide evidence of due diligence as mandated by the Consumer Protection Act.

The list of celebrities has names like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Bhuvan Bam, Shraddha Kapoor, Kriti Sanon and Pratik Gandhi.

Asci has adopted an artificial intelligence-based tracking tool which has allowed it to scrutinise more ads. During the last two years, it has raised the number of ads processed nearly twofold.

“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,” said NS Rajan, chairman of Asci. Business Standard

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