92% of online gaming ads failed to comply with norms, sector most violative: ASCI report

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The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) annual complaints report for 2022-23 has revealed that 92% of gaming advertisements did not comply with the real money gaming ad guidelines. These guidelines have been formed with the objective to inform users of potential financial risks of online gaming.

ASCI reviewed 7,928 advertisements across print, digital and television from various sectors. The council noted a drastic increase in the number of misleading ads involving celebrities – 503 compared to 55 from last year’s report, showing an increase of 803%.

97% of those celebrity ads lacked evidence of due diligence as mandated by the Consumer Protection Act. The influencer ad complaint count stood at 2,039 with 26% found guilty of violation.

Guidelines for real money gaming ads were released back in December 2020 with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issuing an advisory asking the companies to follow them. Despite the advisory, the sector was the least compliant, moving from fifth last year to first this year. Meanwhile, only 50% of the ads were modified after being called out.

Talking about the report, CEO and secretary general of ASCI, Manisha Kapoor said, “The complaints’ analysis for 2022–23 shows that the digital medium is leading in terms of violative ads. This raises significant concerns about online consumer safety and trust.”

“Advertisers, content creators and platforms must come together to address this issue on an urgent basis to protect consumer interests. In addition, the sharp increase in the number of violative gaming ads needs serious attention from the industry,” she added as quoted by The Financial Express.

ASCI has adopted an AI-based tracking tool to scrutinise ads and catch violators. It is said to be working effectively in spite of the vast number of ads that it needs to process.

Talking about the new surveillance system, chairman of ASCI, NS Rajan said, “Stepping up our surveillance through AI-based tools and a robust complaint management system has ensured that ASCI is keeping pace with this dynamic environment. Updating our codes to reflect newer consumer concerns makes sure the ASCI codes remain contemporary.”