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Issue brief - Digital Marketing Communications



The advent of new forms of media using internet technologies combined with the use of telephone, television and other media devices has opened up new ways to advertise. The concept of new media is constantly evolving and as these media are adopted and used, particularly by young people, care is needed to ensure that such advertising is responsible.



Self-regulatory rules

The 2006 ICC Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice incorporates the previous ICC Guidelines on Advertising and Marketing communication using electronic media and telephone (2004). Guidance to marketers is provided by both the General Provisions of the Code and a specific chapter on Advertising and Marketing communication using the Electronic Media and the Telephone (Chapter D). In addition to the general principles of legal, decent, honest, truthful and socially responsible marketing which respects fair competition, the main principles applying to new and evolving media are the following: From the ICC Consolidated Code General Provisions:

  • Marketing communications should be clearly distinguishable from news or editorial matter; 
  • Privacy and adequate data protection should be ensured; 
  • A specific responsibility with regard to children and young people should be ensured; 
  • Cost of communication, e.g. premium rates, etc., should be transparent.

From Chapter D of the ICC Consolidated Code:

  • Electronic communications with a clearly commercial purpose should be identified; 
  • Public Groups (e.g. blogs) and rules with regard to commercial content should be respected;
  • Transparent preference systems and respect for consumer preferences should be ensured;
  • Marketing communication or application should not interfere with consumers’ normal usage of media;
  • In the case of unsolicited messages, responsibility should be exercised with regard to consumers’ interest in the subject or offer;
  • Potential sensitivities of a global audience should be respected;
  • Responsibility for marketing communications should be commensurate with the participant’s respective role in the process.

EASA contributed to the original internet and subsequent electronic media guidelines as well as to the ICC Consolidated Code. It also has drafted a best practice recommendation on how to extend the remit of self-regulatory organisations to include digital marketing communications.



EASA Digital Marketing Communications Best Practice

In October 2008 EASA published best practice guidance with regard to digital marketing communications and the remit of self-regulatory organisations. This document has been sent to all self-regulatory organisations as well as advertising industry representatives for national discussions on the clarification of SRO remit.


When the Best Practice was first published in October 2008, only eight of the 20 EU countries with a self-regulatory authority at that time dealt with digital marketing communications. Two years later this number has extended to 19 out of 22 EU countries that currently have such an organisation.


The Best Practice guidance can be downloaded here [1156, Pdf] 


Levels of complaint

Prior to 2001, internet advertising accounted for a very small number of complaints received by national SROs in Europe. However, complaints increased from 1% of the total in 1999 to 13% in 2008. This steady rise in complaints related to new media is in line with the increase in advertising spend on new media in markets such as the UK.



Further information

After a two-year long consultation with stakeholders, late in 2005 the EU Commission proposed a draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive, to update the Television Without Frontiers Directive and include digital and internet-based audiovisual services and advertisements. The new proposal lays down minimum rules for digital and internet-based audiovisual services and commercial communications. Further information on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive can be found here.