Ad regulator Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received most complaints against ads from five major categories -- education, healthcare, personal care, cryptocurrencies and online gaming -- in 2021-2022.
The body which processed 5,532 ads across mediums including print, digital, and television saw education being the single largest violative sector with 33% objectionable ads. The category was followed by healthcare with 16% objectionable ads, personal care at 11%, and virtual digital assets (cryptocurrencies) and online real money gaming at 8% each, ASCI said in its annual complaints report for the period April 21– March 22.
In addition, virtual digital assets and online gaming ads needed 95% and 94% modification, respectively.
Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general, ASCI, told Moneycontrol that of the 536 ads related to 99 online real-money gaming brands that the regulator has screened since the guidelines for online real money gaming advertisements came into effect in 2020, 505 have been violative of guidelines.
She said that ASCI's focus on digital advertising has led to monitoring of newer categories like influencer marketing, cryptocurrencies and online gaming.
On influencer-led ads, ASCI which had introduced the influencer guidelines last year, saw complaints against them constituting 29% of the total grievances. Key categories in this segment were cryptocurrencies with 24% objectionable ads, personal care at 23%, among others.
While influencer-led ads saw high violations of the ASCI code, the report also pointed out that the compliance was at 86%.
When it comes to complaints regarding misleading claims in ads featuring celebrities that saw a 41% increase out of which 92% were found to be violating ASCI’s guidelines.
With more digital ads coming under ASCI scanner, the ad body said that monitoring of advertisements for misleading content has become more challenging.
Ads are increasingly served and consumed on personal screens, making it difficult for regulators to understand the scale and impact of ads. The volume of advertising creative units has exploded, and it is estimated that an average person is exposed to 6000-10000 ads per day, ASCI said.
In 2021-2022, 48% objectionable ads were on digital followed by 47% on print, and 3% on TV.
Overall, ASCI saw 62% increase in ads processed and 25% increase in complaints. Around 75% of ads processed were picked up suo-motu.
Complaints from consumers constituted 21% of overall grievances, followed by intra-industry and government complaints at 2% each.
Out of the total ads processed, 39% were not contested by the advertiser, 55% of them were found to be objectionable after investigation, and complaints against 4% of ads were dismissed as not violating the ASCI code. And 94% of ads that ASCI processed needed changes to avoid violation of the ASCI code.