The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s regulator of advertising, has raised concerns about the use of misleading and sexualized in-game ads by mobile game companies. The organization noted that these clips might be harmful to users.
One of the ads for Campus, a mobile dating sim by Amrita Studio
James Craig, senior regulatory policy executive at the ASA, told the Financial Times that the regulator will “take any complaints on this very seriously because of the huge problems we’ve seen [so far].”
Earlier this month, the ASA banned an ad, which included a woman playing pool and exposing her breasts to promote the mobile game titled Infinity 8 Ball. The clip was shown within Angry Birds 2, with Rovio saying that it appeared in its game by mistake.
The regulator cited a decrease in engagement and advertising spending in recent months as one of the reasons mobile companies have started using such provocative ads more often.
Ampere Analysis senior games analyst Louise Shorthouse noted that these ads “tend to contain something with shock value that will make someone stop and pay attention, whether that’s a disturbing, nonsensical narrative or a scantily clad woman.”
The ASA previously tried to fight mobile ads containing misleading information. Last year, the regulator banned Playrix’s ads for being “not representative of the games they were purported to feature.”
However, Craig thinks that the new category of mobile ads can be potentially more harmful because of their explicit nature and the way they target vulnerable adults and children.