V865 - Advertising Research Bill 2015 (Second Reading)

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On the contrary, No (7)
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Birchington
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V865 - Advertising Research Bill 2015 (Second Reading), The Rt. Hon. Actaeon MP

Advertising Research Bill 2015


A bill to introduce an accessible ratings system to grade the quality of research used in advertising.

BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows: -



1. Definitions
(1) For the purposes of this bill, ‘research’ is defined as any consumer survey, opinion poll, clinical trial or scientific study producing verifiable data or conclusions.
(2) For the purposes of this bill, an ‘advertiser’ is defined as any organisation using visual or audible media to promote a commercial product.

2. Creation of a body to oversee advertising research
(1) An executive non-departmental government body named the Research Standards in Advertising Commission, henceforth referred to as the RSAC, will be created.
(2) To be considered for appointment to the RSAC, a person must have a minimum of five years of experience working in the scientific research or polling sectors.
(3) The RSAC will be funded by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance applying an additional 0.025% levy on the cost of buying advertising space.

3. Advertising research quality ratings
(1) Advertisers may request, free of charge, for research to be awarded a rating by the RSAC.
(2) Advertisers based overseas may also request, free of charge, for research to be awarded a rating by the RSAC. The RSAC may only grant this request if the advertiser shows evidence that the research will be used in advertising in UK-based media.
(3) Three ratings are available: Green, Amber and Red.
(a) A Green rating corresponds to a ‘good’ research technique; an Amber rating corresponds to an ‘acceptable’ research technique; and a Red rating corresponds to an ‘inadequate’ research technique.
(b) The criteria for ratings as determined in § 5 of this bill must be reviewed at least once every five years by the RSAC.
(4) Advertisers may appeal the RSAC’s ruling once by applying to the Advertising Standards Authority.

4. Display of ratings in advertising
(1) All advertisements containing research material must display the corresponding RSAC rating badge.
(2) For advertising with a visual media component:
(a) The rating badge must occupy no less than 5% of the total area of the display medium;
(b) The rating badge must be visible for no less than 4 seconds.
(3) For advertising only using an audible medium:
(a) The rating must be stated once using the phrase, ‘The research and conclusions used in this advertisement have been found to be good/acceptable/inadequate’;
(b) This statement must last a minimum of 4 seconds.

5. Preliminary rating criteria
(1) The RSAC will award ratings to research by considering the criteria outlined in this section.
(2) If an advertisement matches one or more Red criteria it receives a Red rating. If the advertisement matches three or more Amber criteria it receives an Amber rating. Otherwise the advertisement receives a Green rating.
(3) The Amber criteria are:
(a) Attempted randomisation of participants, but not necessarily using the most effective or thorough method;
(b) Statistical significance of results is not necessarily demonstrated;
(c) Failure to declare commercial interests;
(d) Intentional—though accurate—misrepresentation of a study’s conclusions or data;
(e) Size of study is small compared to other comparable research;
(f) Failure to identify potential confounding variables;
(g) Falsifying the qualifications or experience of researchers;
(4) The Red criteria are:
(a) Fabrication of any material involved in the study;
(b) Plagiarism;
(c) Failure to adequately respond to substantiated allegations of misconduct;
(d) Non-randomised and deliberately biased selection of participants;
(e) Deliberate use of biased or misleading research questions;
(f) Deliberate selection or deletion of data in order to alter results;
(g) Failure to use a placebo or control group, where one is essential to make valid conclusions;
(h) Failure to use a single-, double-, or triple-blind method where it is essential to make valid conclusions;
(i) Failure to describe any of the experimental procedures to the RSAC in enough detail to allow a conclusion to be drawn.

6. Transparency
(1) The RSAC must publish a concise summary detailing the criteria met by all advertisements it awards a rating to.
(2) These summaries must be available on a freely-accessible UK-based website within one month of the rating being awarded.

7. Enforcement
(1) Any broadcaster running an advertisement that fails to meet the conditions outlined in § 4 of this bill is liable to be referred to Ofcom and have its licence to broadcast revoked.
(2) Any advertiser running an advertisement in non-broadcast material that fails to meet the conditions outlined in § 4 of this bill is liable to a fine of up to £500,000.

8. Commencement, Short Title, and Extent
(1) This bill comes into force on 1st January 2016.
(2) This bill extends to the United Kingdom.
(3) This bill may be cited as the Advertising Research Bill 2015.

Notes:
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While there are extensive advertising standards codes, there is little regulation of the methodology used for the research behind adverts. This bill does not place advertising research under the same level of scrutiny as peer-reviewed scientific literature, but it does enable a quick determination of its technical validity. It ensures that consumers are informed about the quality of the research behind advertising, and thus intends to push advertisers to raise the overall quality of their research.

Obtaining even rough costings for this bill is very difficult, so I have taken the current funding method for the Advertising Standards Authority, and used a quarter of this value as a ballpark figure.

The suggested rating criteria were based on the Research Councils UK Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct, and Dr Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science.

While Green criteria are not explicitly used to determine a rating, they are included in the notes to demonstrate typical good-quality research practice that would be the case in any Green-rated study.

The Green criteria are:

(a) Effectively randomised selection of participants;
(b) Single-, double-, or triple-blind study where appropriate;
(c) Conclusions shown to be statistically significant to an appropriate level;
(d) Use of a placebo group where appropriate;
(e) Use of a control group where appropriate.

The badge that ads will have to carry is envisaged as being an easily recognisable 'sciencey' symbol, shaded in the appropriate colour, similar to something like this:



Changes for second reading:
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1. A definition of an ‘advertiser’ (§1.2).
2. Clarification included to show that all adverts shown in the UK are eligible for a free rating, even if the advertiser is partially or wholly based overseas (§3.2).
3. Size of the logo to be displayed is reduced from 10% to 5% of total area, which is a more reasonable coverage of the display medium (§4.2.a).
4. Time the logo must be visible is reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds (§4.2.b).
5. Minimum time for the rating to be stated in radio ads (§4.3.b).
6. Deleting or selecting data with the express intention of altering the results in any direction is now a red criterion (§5.4.f).
7. A requirement for the RSAC to publish a summary of all its decisions to improve transparency (§6).
8. Green criteria moved to the notes, as they do not form part of the rating determination.
9. Some spelling, grammar and style improvements which do not affect the purpose of the bill.

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SakuraCayla
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I can't find any issues with this unless I am missing something glaringly obvious
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Life_peer
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Yeah, it looks alright so it's an aye.


Actaeon Was this rejected by the rest of the Liberal party or did you decide to submit it on your own? If it's the latter, why?
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Birchington
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Ayes to the right: 30
Noes to the left: 7
Abstain: 6

The Ayes have it! The Ayes have it. Unlock.

Turnout: 86%
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