NEWS20 April 2018

IPA calls for moratorium on targeted political online ads

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UK – The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is calling for a moratorium on ‘micro-targeted’ online political advertising, which it says is “unaccountable” and “circumvents collective debate”.


The industry body is making the official call to The Electoral Commission and the wider political community to halt the use of data-led online micro-messaging for political purposes following the allegations surrounding Cambridge Analytica’s use of data gleaned from Facebook users.

The IPA says such a move is necessary due to the lack of self-regulation on political advertising – unlike other forms of advertising, which are covered by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) codes. It is also calling for all political ad creative to be listed for public display to ensure messaging is accountable and visible to all members of the public.

Sarah Golding, president of the IPA, said: “Politics relies on the public square – on open, collective debate. We, however, believe micro-targeted political ads circumvent this. Very small numbers of voters can be targeted with specific messages that exist online only briefly. In the absence of regulation we believe this almost hidden form of political communication is vulnerable to abuse.”

Golding stressed that the call is not for a blanket ban on all digitally targeted advertising. “There’s nothing wrong with using data to micro target advertising for holiday destinations or sports cars, for example – crucially, they are covered by the strict ASA self-regulatory Codes, and furthermore they don’t require public square debate.”

She added: “In an age where consumer trust has been heavily eroded and the quest for truth and transparency is paramount, we feel it incumbent upon us to call for this moratorium.”