The Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines is a code that is authored by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, also known as the ASAS. Its most recent update is centred around ideas of integrity, transparency, and good ethics within the online advertising community. Though these rules are not official laws, they are considered best practices. There are six important points that the ASAS addresses in its advertising guidelines and each gives advertisers a simple view of what is expected of them. Take a look:
Identify Commercial Messages
The first section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of full disclosure. Its purpose is to ensure that consumers are always aware of when they’re reading an opinion or are being advertised to. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to let them know.
The guidelines suggest that you tell people when you’re marketing to them. If you’re posting an advertisement, then don’t lead them to believe that the post is simply your opinion or an editorial. This is especially the case if you have partnered with a company and are endorsing their product for money–even if it’s a friendly favour. Sure, this endorsement may actually reflect your genuine opinion, but the guidelines urge advertisers to make a clear distinction between advertising and opinion-based posts. The same rule applies when you’re communicating with users individually; you must make sure to reveal the true nature of your communication.
You should also avoid claiming that a service or product has been endorsed by a specific company or organisation. And as a marketer, you should never promote a product or service by making users believe that your content was originally posted by a source that’s impartial or credible.
Make Offers and Conditions Clear
The second section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of the clarity of your offers and conditions. Its purpose is to ensure that consumers are always aware of if, when, and what they will be expected to pay for services or products. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to let them know.
The guidelines suggest that you make all fees clear to consumers before charging them. You should avoid using technical devices to hide prices or sales conditions in an attempt to confuse them. The guidelines offer the solution of inserting steps in the order process so that consumers are always aware of their contracts and commitments. Before the final step, consumers should be given an opportunity to check the accuracy of their order. After their order is complete, they should be sent a confirmation message so that they can further review their purchase.
The third section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of maintaining a respectful online community. Its purpose is to ensure that consumers are not inundated with false claims and information. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to prevent the spreading of false information.
The guidelines suggest that you regularly update your social media policies. It is advised that advertisers avoid exposing their audiences to information that other brands would not endorse. This includes false claims and marketing myths.
Be Mindful When Marketing to Children
The fourth section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of protecting children as well as their information. Its purpose is to ensure that children aren’t exposed to inappropriate messaging and that their information is only distributed to certain people and only upon expressed permission. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to ensure that children and their identity are well-guarded.
If children, namely those 12 years of age or younger, are apart of your target audience, then the guidelines suggest that your advertisement be suitable and age appropriate. Also, any personal information that is acquired from children must not be disclosed to a third party unless it has been authorised by their parent or legal guardian. It’s also worth noting that those who offer support for your website do not fall into the third party category.
Make Disclosures Simple
The fifth section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of keeping your disclosures simple. Its purpose is to ensure that consumers understand what you’re saying when your disclose an endorsement. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to ensure that the language can be understood by everyone.
The guidelines suggest that you avoid the use of jargon in disclosures and instead use every-day, basic language. Not only should the language be simple, but it should also be prominent. This means that it should be easy for consumers to notice while doing minimal scrolling, clearly convey that the content is paid for, and feature a colour that contrasts the rest of the page so as to emphasise it. It should be easy to read on all devices and consumers shouldn’t be directed elsewhere in order to find the information. The disclosure should be viewed on the same page as the advertisement and if the disclosure is hyperlinked, it should be distinguished in colour from the text.
The guidelines insist that advertisers avoid distracting consumers from disclosure with graphics, sound, links to other sites or screens, or buy buttons. In fact, they suggest that the only time audio disclosures be used is when the sponsored content is in the form of audio and the audio should reasonably easy to hear. Also, written disclosures should be reserved for written content and visual disclosures should be reserved for visual content–it should appear long enough to be read and understood by consumers.
Use Legitimate Social Engagement Tools
The last section of the Singapore digital and social media advertising guidelines covers the importance of social engagement tools. Its purpose is to ensure that consumers have an accurate representation of the brand’s popularity. And according to the ASAS, it’s your job to ensure that consumers are not misled.
While social media tools can serve to increase engagement with consumers, the guidelines insist that advertisers avoid inflating their engagement metrics through fraudulent means. For example, buying “likes” violates the ASAS’ code. So do not fake accounts and page views.
As you can see, there’s a recurring pattern within these guidelines. Every section requires that advertisers make sure that consumers are well informed about the nature of their marketing communication. Each advertiser has a responsibility to ensure that consumers know when they’re being sold to, when their making purchases, when their children’s information is being shared with third parties, that they have instant access to clear disclosures, that they know how popular the brand really is, and that they are not bombarded with false information.