Daniel Farey-Jones
Jul 26, 2023

UK govt unveils online ad taskforce to tackle harms and protect children

Adland veteran Mark Lund will help lead the taskforce.

Mark Lund:
Mark Lund: "Advertising is a dynamic engine for the UK economy"

The UK government is to give the ad industry a chance to increase consumer protection from the type of ads it wants to outlaw while it consults further on its plans to establish a regulator to police them.

It is the latest development in the UK government’s Online Advertising Programme, which is intended to introduce laws against scam ads, ads for prohibited products and services, and showing alcohol and gambling ads to children.

The UK government intends to publish a consultation document later today (25 July) on "new rules to crack down on illegal ads, influencer scams and to protect children online", which it said would "strike a balance between internet safety and supporting innovation".

The planned legislation will put more responsibility on online publishers and adtech players but raises the question of who regulates and punishes ads deemed to have broken the law, which is not in the remit of the ad industry’s self-regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority.

The government said online ads “accounted for three quarters (£26.1bn) of the £34.8bn spent on advertising in the UK” in 2022.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would consult further on its legislative plans, including on its preferred choice of regulator, “in due course”.

Meanwhile, it has enlisted veteran adman Mark Lund to help lead a new Online Advertising Taskforce that intends to “build on industry initiatives to tackle harms and increase protections for children before the legislation is introduced”.

Lund is the current chair of the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, which collects the industry levy that funds the ASA.

It is understood the taskforce will meet over the next 12 months and will include representation from the ad industry, including the ASA, as well as tech trade bodies, consumer groups and the government’s anti-fraud champion, Anthony Browne MP.

Lund will be the deputy to the taskforce leader and creative industries minister, John Whittingdale.

“UK advertising is a dynamic engine for the UK economy because it’s creative and trusted," Lund said. “So I’m delighted to be helping lead in the taskforce’s role in strengthening industry’s response to illegal harms advertising and the protection of children online, building on the long-term success of the ASA and the self-regulation system in keeping both trust and creativity at world-leading levels.”

His former roles include chief executive of the government’s centralised marketing agency, the Central Office of Information; chairman of the Advertising Association; chair of ad industry youth education programme Media Smart UK. Lund also headed agencies such as McCann Europe, Now and Delaney Lund Knox Warren (now MullenLowe).

Campaign UK

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