In November last year, CAP announced new guidance for ads which make speed claims for broadband services, allowing a six-month implementation period. The new guidance came into effect on Wednesday, 23 May, and the ASA will have regard to it when considering whether speed claims in broadband advertising comply with the relevant CAP/BCAP Code.
The need for new guidance followed research by the ASA and a CAP/BCAP consultation that suggested that consumers might be misled by speed claims in broadband ads created under the previous guidance.
Difficulties with broadband advertising include, for example, that the speed of service that customers of the same provider will achieve will be different and that consumers find it difficult to understand the level of service advertised and which they can expect to receive. Under the previous guidance, the recommended basis for numerical speed claims was that the speeds claimed had to be available only to at least 10% of customers. A principle of the new guidance is that speed claims should be based on the actual experience of users. Advertisers should be able to show that the speeds they claim in their advertising can be achieved by a reasonable proportion of their customers.
The new guidance therefore provides that where advertisers make a numerical speed claim for broadband services, they should be able to demonstrate that the speed is achievable for at least 50% of the relevant customer base at peak time (defined by Ofcom as between 8 and 10pm).
Information is also provided on when and how advertisers may need to use qualifying information for their claims, the use of non-numerical speed claims - such as ‘superfast’ -and on the substantiation of claims.
Says Richard Lindsay, IPA Director of Legal & Public Affairs: “The new guidance is much stricter, requiring that numerical speed claims should now be based on the download speed available to at least 50% of customers at peak time. This new standard, together with the other points set out in the new guidance, will mean that advertisers and their agencies must make their broadband speed claims clearer so that they are less likely to mislead.”
For more information on the new guidance visit the CAP website.