Gambling ads on kids' site – Ladbrokes to investigate

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 20 May 2015

Bookmakers Ladbrokes has today come under fire after adverts from the betting company popped up on kids' homework site.

While issues of adverts appearing on less than desirable sites is a major brand safety issue, so to is having adverts popping up in unsuitable locations.

Two right hand ads appeared on the site, which helps schoolchildren learn about numbers, logic, strategy and more. The site helps make maths enjoyable for people who “thought it couldn't be fun”.

Whether this was an error by the advertiser's media agency, Ikon Brisbane, or a one-off incident borne out of the rapidly developing programmatic landscape, remains to be seen, but Ladbrokes CMO James Burnett said the news was a major concern.

“Ladbrokes takes very seriously our responsibility to ensure our advertising not only complies with all relevant regulations, but that it also is placed in digital environments which are age and subject-appropriate, Burnett said.

“We do this not as a matter of best placement for return on investment but we do this because it is the right thing to do.

“As to how one of our ads was placed on a site which is clearly age and subject-inappropriate we are still getting to the bottom of it. However we are glad this has been bought to our attention and we will be reviewing the rules in place within our buying platform.”

One programmatic industry figure told AdNews that instances like this should not be occurring.

“They really shouldn't slip through these days. Proper white list/black list and pre-bid verification should prevent this. No excuse for a gambling ad on a kids site,” he said.

CEO at the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) Fiona Jolly said the ASB does not have any codes that deal specifically with gambling advertising.

“Issues around the promotion of gambling are usually looked at under Section 2.6 of the AANA Code of Ethics, which states: Advertising and Marketing Communications shall not depict material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety,” she said.
Jolly said while there is nothing in the code that looks at or restricts placement of the advertisement, the board has previously upheld one advertisement for potentially making gambling attractive to children, and being contrary to prevailing community standards on safety for children.
“In terms of the Ladbrokes advertisement, if a complaint was received, it would be up to the Advertising Standards Board to make a decision on whether this is contrary to prevailing community standards,” she said.

CEO of IAB Australia Alice Manners said both the buy-side and sell-side need to play a role in defending against traffic fraud and improving the digital ecosystem.

She said there are two white papers on the IAB website developed by the Brand Safety Council which outline steps that can be taken by individual businesses in the digital advertising marketplace to address traffic fraud within their organisations.


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