The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recently published its annual report, which highlights (amongst other things) their adoption of artificial intelligence software to identify misleading and irresponsible advertisements placed online.
The ASA's software is designed to capture and analyse all Instagram Stories produced by ‘high-risk’ influencers who have previously failed to clearly and consistently label when their content is an advertisement. The software will analyse content posted by such influencers with a view to determining whether such content is likely to be an advertisement but has not been disclosed as such. Consequently the ASA will be able to take a much more proactive approach in identifying and addressing advertising content that is not clearly marked as an advertisment, thereby reducing the volume of unlabelled ads that can mislead the public.
It is not clear whether the ASA have protected their AI tool. My patent colleagues tell me that it is possible that it might be protectable by a patent in Europe, but as their recent research shows, where the invention lies would affect the likelihood of a patent being granted.
In any event, the ASA's use of AI technology to adopt a more proactive stance in identifying unlabelled advertising content clearly highlights the importance of ensuring that any promotional materials related to trade marked products or services that are placed on social media are clearly identified as advertisements, particularly those posted by social media influencers. If not, subsequent action by the ASA may well result in adverse publicity that could cause serious reputational damage to the brand.