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Regulating online advertising: the benefit of qualitative insights

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine the regulatory options available to control advertising on the internet. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The analytical framework for this study was derived from Harker and colleagues' work on effective advertising self-regulation (ASR). The key areas of the legal regulatory framework, the self-regulatory framework, prevailing community standards, and industry compliance were examined in the context of the internet; the focus being the achievement of acceptable advertising. Dick's convergent interviewing techniques were utilised during a number of depth interviews with key stakeholders and the data were analysed using Strauss' and Strauss and Corbin's guidelines. Findings ‐ This qualitative approach allowed great insight to be gained in a "messy" area. A number of regulatory options are suggested, ranging along a continuum from full control to no control. Whilst controlling advertising on traditional media is moving towards best practice, the dynamic context of the internet provides new challenges for all stakeholders in terms of consumer protection. Research limitations/implications ‐ A significant limitation of any research concerned with the internet relates to the currency of information, and this is difficult to account for in this dynamic environment. Originality/value ‐ Whilst there have been many research papers describing approaches to traditional ASR, there is little to guide us when it comes to options for controlling online advertising. This paper has attempted to push the research boundary a little further in this regard and is meant to be a paper that will hopefully stimulate other research colleagues to challenge ideas and the traditional view.
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Keywords: Advertising control; Advertising media; Depth interviews; Internet; Regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 13, 2008

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