The UK advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has acted against gambling operator Tombola over mobile advertisements.
The ads featured in the I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here app, linked to the ITV show of the same name, and appeared in multiple sections of the app, providing links to the Tombola arcade site.
The ASA found that Tombola had not taken sufficient steps to ensure that under-18s were not exposed to the ads and that therefore the ads had inappropriately targeted under-age users.
In their response, Tombola emphasised that the ads placed in the app were part of a bigger sponsorship deal, and that they had undertaken a range of checks to ensure that their sponsorship would not be inappropriate and would be aimed at the over-18 market.
They also pointed to viewing figures that revealed 91 percent of ad views were in the over-18 age group and that any under-18 users who attempted to download the Tombola slots app would see that it was aimed at over-18s. ITV also provided evidence to the ASA, referring to the time that the original show was broadcast, and to audience indexing information that they claimed showed the programme did not have a particular appeal to under-age audiences.
But the ASA disagreed with both Tombola and ITV. They concluded that although the app had little direct appeal to under-18s, it was possible for those in that age group to interact with it, that there were no mechanisms in the app to direct them away from underage users, and that therefore the app effectively targeted an underage audience and was in breach of advertising codes:
We therefore considered the advertiser had not taken sufficient care, through the selection of media, to ensure that the ads were directed at an audience aged 18 and over so as to minimise under-18s’ exposure to them.”
Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at firstname.lastname@example.org.