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Healthcare witnesses most of objectionable advertising in India

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Wednesday said it has processed to 3,501 advertising-related complaints in the April-September 2023, which a rise of 27%. Digital media remained the primary source of violations accounting for 79%, followed by print at 17% and television at 3%, while other media accounted for 2%, ASCI said in its half-yearly complaints report.

“All stakeholders need to come together to tackle the issue of online safety of consumers given that they spend high amounts of time there, and where there is a proliferation of objectionable advertising,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary-General, ASCI. She adds that ASCI remains committed to addressing the challenges posed by digital advertising. “A whopping 79% of problematic ads were found online, highlighting the challenges in the digital advertising world. ASCI’s focused monitoring mechanisms boosted digital surveillance to combat objectionable content in the medium. 98% of overall ads processed required some form of modification,” she adds.

According to the report, in the digital advertising sphere, 22% of complaints were against influencers. It said that 99.4% of advertisements processed for influencer guidelines were found to be in violation. “ASCI received compliance with its recommendations in 92% of influencer cases taken up versus 86% in previous years, signalling greater compliance with ASCI’s CCC recommendations,” the report said.

It also said that healthcare was the sector with most violations, constituting 21% of all complaints processed. “The surge is attributed to a high volume of drug and medicine advertisements on digital platforms,” she adds. ASCI observed a significant increase in ads directly violating the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act of 1954, leading to the issuance of intimations to advertisers advising withdrawal or modification of the advertisement. ASCI referred 565 advertisements to the Ministry of AYUSH in just six months, compared to 464 ads referred in the last financial year.

“Our constant vigilance of the online space helps call out the advertisements and brands that violate the ASCI code. We hope that the various sectors recognise the breaches and commit to more responsible advertising,” she adds.

The report said that out of 3,501 ads processed, 564 (16%) were flagged as potential direct violations of the law, which represents a 22% increase over the previous year while 35% of the total ads processed were not contested and were promptly withdrawn or modified. A further 47% of ads were found to have violated the ASCI Code and the advertisements were recommended to be withdrawn or modified and only 2% of complaints were dismissed. Business Today

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