The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has used a new form of technology to find and ban online gambling adverts targeted at children.
The organisation partnered with a data and analytics firm to create seven child and adult-like avatars to replicate the different browsing habits of people and discover what promotions were advertised to them.
According to Sky News, the avatars were aged 6 to 7, 8 to 12, 16, an adult, a person of indeterminate age and an avatar depicting an adult and child using the same device.
Over a two-week monitoring period, adverts from 43 different gambling operators were discovered on websites where the avatars had not signed-in to an account.
The ASA states that 23 of those operators’ adverts were witnessed by the underage avatars 151 times over 11 different websites, all aimed at children. This led five gambling operators to have their adverts banned for targeting underage persons.
Out of all the advertisements seen by the avatars, NetEnt’s Vikings Video Slot appeared the most at around 81% of the 151 witnessed. Meanwhile, other adverts focused on promoting individual gambling websites.
In a statement addressing the news, the ASA revealed that the gambling operators accepted that their ads had broken the rules but insisted that third-party companies were at fault.
The operators were then instructed to take immediate action and review their ads to ensure they no longer targeted under-18s.
Guy Parker, the ASA Chief Executive, said in a statement: “Online ads are subject to the same strict rules that apply elsewhere and this important new monitoring capability delivers on our commitment to having more impact online.
“It’s already allowed us to spot a problem with a small number of gambling operators and take quick and effective action to ensure children are protected from irresponsibly-targeted gambling ods.”
He added: “We’re already looking at expanding this work, as well as exploring how other new technologies can help us protect the public.”