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Most companies with a website are probably guilty of claiming on their website and internet marketing activities that they are ‘the best’ in their field. However this will be a risky claim to make from 1st March 2011 when the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) extend the advertising rules around making these claims to include online advertising.

What Is Covered?

The law will stretch to cover claims made on a companies own website, as well as advertising on other websites. What is meant by advertising are paid adverts such as banner advertising and PPC campaigns all of which will come to mind when thinking about online advertising. Probably most surprising, however, is that activities which are considered as non-paid advertising are also included so any claims made on free directory listings, wiki pages, and even social media such as Facebook and Twitter, must follow the rules.

What Will Happen if the Rules are Broken?

It will be possible for the ASA to impose any of the existing sanctions for offline advertising. In addition, they will be able to extend sanctions to include removal of paid for advertising that link to the page making the false claim as well as using the company as an example in ASA paid for online advertising.

Exceptions To The Rule?

As always there are exceptions to the rule, and in this case press releases and public relations material, editorial content, and natural search engine listings do not fall under the ASA remit. The ASA have also excluded any historical advertising, meaning that advertising which has been posted prior to 1st March 2011 is exempt.

Simply put, if a company is going to claim, to be the best, the cheapest, the supplier of choice, they had better be able to back it up with valid evidence.

ASA to regulate online advertising by