Pepper and the ASA

25
Posted 18th Mar
Seems the ASA feel 'deals' posted are ads, I'm sure I've seen mods state previously on here that they comply with the ASA and everything they do is within advertising guidelines.

Any comment @Jason ?


asa.org.uk/rul…tml


We understood that during the course of our investigation, HotUKDeals had included a disclaimer in small print, beneath the description of the deal on each page which stated that “if you click through or buy, retailers may pay HotUKDeals some money”. They had also included an icon with the text “EDITOR” and a red tick symbol beside the username for deals posted by their staff members. We considered that while the “EDITOR” symbol may have indicated to users that the deal was posted from a staff member, this did not indicate to consumers that the deal contained an affiliate link and was therefore an ad. Additionally, the general disclaimer did not clearly state which particular deal included an affiliate link and it was not in any case sufficiently prominent to readers. We therefore considered that the changes were not sufficient to make their posts obviously identifiable as ads. Therefore, we concluded that in the absence of a clear and prominent identifier beside the affiliate links, such as “#ad”, the links on the website were not obviously identifiable as ads and did not make clear their commercial intent.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 and 2.3 (Recognition of marketing communications).
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Dan18/03/2020 09:26

We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this …We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this has absolutely no impact on the selection or presentation of the deals


You keep saying this - I don't think anyone believes it any more.
The weird thing here is when we have had a conversation about the use of advert in a listing, Pepper always says they think it will make no difference to a listing if it has it or not. Yet when the asa say you should put advert on employees postings, be it directly employed or subcontract, they are digging their heels in as hard as they can.

so which is it?
Edited by: "pinkleponkle" 18th Mar
Dan18/03/2020 09:43

I can count two - experts are not employees. I can assure you the numbers …I can count two - experts are not employees. I can assure you the numbers above are correct - we submitted them to the ASA.


Nor are affiliates but I can point you to numerous times companies (mainly gambling) have been fined because of misleading advertising by affiliates.
Saying experts aren't employees may be fact, but they get paid by Pepper, so I don't think the ASA would accept they aren't posting on behalf of Pepper.
dufflecoat_moon_turkey18/03/2020 09:51

Comment deleted


This is what they do, they just give the untransparent “transparent” answer to anything that needs transparency

If they want to be transparent they should let every member know exactly how they reward “experts”. They should have a list of all retailers that pay them commission (as some do and some don’t). The retailers they earn money off should be listed on every deal that is linked to that retailer. They should specifically state that a deal is an advertisement when listed by “admin”, as all of them are.

There’s numerous conversations they just delete that question their practices, then say it was “off topic”.
25 Comments
You can see the sites response on the ruling. Give it a read if you’ve not already done so.
I think the asa recommendations are clear to see, and hukd still arent complying. It’s amazing how much I had to read to find out the only thing missing is two letters,

AD

Action

The ad must not appear in the form complained of. We told Pepper Deals Ltd t/a HotUKDeals to ensure that in future affiliate links were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, for example by including a clear identifier such as “#ad”, and made clear their commercial intent prior to consumer engagement.
Edited by: "pinkleponkle" 18th Mar
Jason18/03/2020 08:06

You can see the sites response on the ruling. Give it a read if you’ve not …You can see the sites response on the ruling. Give it a read if you’ve not already done so.


I did, it wasn't enough?

Additionally, the general disclaimer did not clearly state which particular deal included an affiliate link and it was not in any case sufficiently prominent to readers. We therefore considered that the changes were not sufficient to make their posts obviously identifiable as ads. Therefore, we concluded that in the absence of a clear and prominent identifier beside the affiliate links, such as “#ad”, the links on the website were not obviously identifiable as ads and did not make clear their commercial intent.

The ad must not appear in the form complained of. We told Pepper Deals Ltd t/a HotUKDeals to ensure that in future affiliate links were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, for example by including a clear identifier such as “#ad”, and made clear their commercial intent prior to consumer engagement.
Actually, I don't see any response to the ruling, where is it @Jason please? I see Pepper's response to the ASA before the ruling was made but theres nothing on that page after the ruling was made? The Pepper comments on there were considered when the ASA were deciding what ruling to make, so that cleary isn't a response to the ruling.
Hi,

There was a lot more back and forth with us and the ASA, but not all included in our response in the ruling. Here are a few more bits of our thoughts.

Our view on the ruling

We agree that websites like ours need to be transparent about how we operate, and we believe we are one of a handful of sites currently finding best practice ways of doing this . What we don’t agree with is that there are no clear guidelines for the industry as a whole, including media outlets who have voucher/discount sections and use affiliate links, and we feel that suggestions we have received from the ASA are more applicable to influencers and social media, which are not relevant for us.

Not all of the promotions featured on our website are ‘paid-for’ promotions, nor do they always contain affiliate links. We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this has absolutely no impact on the selection or presentation of the deals.

We have made changes in recent months to make this info even more visible. Every deal posted now has a sentence that says – “If you click through or buy using any of our links, retailers may pay hotukdeals some money, but this never affects which deals get posted. Find more info in our FAQs and About Us page”. We had already updated how our editors were displayed on site and have made further amends over the last few months.

We want to be the best in the market in terms of transparency, while also being accurate with our users about how we work - and these are not adverts. We’ve looked at other websites who include shopping offers which drive revenue to the publishers, including media titles, with the majority failing to provide the same editorial quality control to deals/vouchers as we do, nor do they explain their revenue or site staff situations as clearly as we currently do. Some fail to mention anything at all despite affiliate links being used, which we believe creates a detrimental, opaque situation for shoppers.

However the ASA has made it clear to us that unless we complain about these publishers individually, nothing will change across the industry and individual sites will just be targeted on a case by case basis. We have tried to meet with the ASA throughout this whole process to explain how the industry works and to help come up with solutions that work for all of us and our community and we would still like to do this – along with our colleagues from competitor sites and media outlets if they are willing.We believe our approach to transparency about our commercial model is the most honest and accurate one. We have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and informed of them of some further changes we will be making - we will share those with you here ASAP

The ASA have suggested that you write #ad on your posts – why are you unwilling to do this?

This is a solution for social media influencers who are promoting products and services. We’re not doing this and believe #ad would be misleading because of the way the site works – members aren’t posting deals because they want to promote the brand or retailers (we do not allow self-promotion on site) - they do so because they believe the offer will help others save money – this isthe same for our deal editor team.

The vast majority - around 95% - of deals posted on hotukdeals are member submitted deals and the rest are posted by our team of deal editors who source offers from their own research as well as working with our partnerships team on market-leading discounts and exclusives agreed with retail partners. As said, we make money through affiliate links, where we have a program in place (operated by an agency), so editors don’t always know which deals are earning us commission. The deals which have been worked on with retailers are not ads – they’re offers that are worked on extensively by our partnership team and deal editors to ensure they are market leading, so our members have access to the best offers to help them save money. This can be a time-consuming process and one that retailers can often get frustrated about as we reject deals that aren’t worthwhile for our consumers (we reject far more than we accept).

Those which are accepted for posting are not written as recommendations but as well researched, market-leading deals for our members to decide whether to use to save money. They can be rated by our members as hot or cold as normal without influence from hotukdeals employees or retailers. It’s important to remember that many of our editors and staff were originally members of the hotukdeals community - some from the very beginning in 2004/5. They have experienced knowledge of when a deal is good or not, which is why we have them review any partnership deals as they are the experts and won’t accept any deals that aren’t worthwhile because, like all of us at hotukdeals, the community is the most important part of our business and one we would never jeopardise.

We don't think any of this describes a process that can be summarised by the use of the hashtag #ad
However, the ASA disagrees. So you are just going to ignore the ruling basically?

Regarding the #ad tag, I think, from reading, and having read many ASA rulings in the past, what they are concerned about is the fact that Pepper staff are posting deals, and they are the ones that should always have a tag. I agree with that point. If a retailer sends you a deal to promote and you get paid for that promotion, then that is an advert. I don't agree it should be used with member submissions though.

As regards the social media tagging, you use social media don't you? Do you include #ad on those posts?
Edited by: "julieallen" 18th Mar
dufflecoat_moon_turkey18/03/2020 09:39

Comment deleted


I can count two - experts are not employees. I can assure you the numbers above are correct - we submitted them to the ASA.
julieallen18/03/2020 09:41

However, the ASA disagrees. So you are just going to ignore the ruling …However, the ASA disagrees. So you are just going to ignore the ruling basically?Regarding the #ad tag, I think, from reading, and having read many ASA rulings in the past, what they are concerned about is the fact that Pepper staff are posting deals, and they are the ones that should always have a tag. I agree with that point. If a retailer sends you a deal to promote and you get paid for that promotion, then that is an advert. I don't agree it should be used with member submissions though.


As I said in the post, we have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and informed of them of some further changes we will be making - we will share those with you here ASAP
Dan18/03/2020 09:43

I can count two - experts are not employees. I can assure you the numbers …I can count two - experts are not employees. I can assure you the numbers above are correct - we submitted them to the ASA.


Nor are affiliates but I can point you to numerous times companies (mainly gambling) have been fined because of misleading advertising by affiliates.
Saying experts aren't employees may be fact, but they get paid by Pepper, so I don't think the ASA would accept they aren't posting on behalf of Pepper.
dufflecoat_moon_turkey18/03/2020 09:51

Comment deleted


This is what they do, they just give the untransparent “transparent” answer to anything that needs transparency

If they want to be transparent they should let every member know exactly how they reward “experts”. They should have a list of all retailers that pay them commission (as some do and some don’t). The retailers they earn money off should be listed on every deal that is linked to that retailer. They should specifically state that a deal is an advertisement when listed by “admin”, as all of them are.

There’s numerous conversations they just delete that question their practices, then say it was “off topic”.
Dan18/03/2020 09:26

Hi,There was a lot more back and forth with us and the ASA, but not all …Hi,There was a lot more back and forth with us and the ASA, but not all included in our response in the ruling. Here are a few more bits of our thoughts. Our view on the rulingWe agree that websites like ours need to be transparent about how we operate, and we believe we are one of a handful of sites currently finding best practice ways of doing this . What we don’t agree with is that there are no clear guidelines for the industry as a whole, including media outlets who have voucher/discount sections and use affiliate links, and we feel that suggestions we have received from the ASA are more applicable to influencers and social media, which are not relevant for us.Not all of the promotions featured on our website are ‘paid-for’ promotions, nor do they always contain affiliate links. We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this has absolutely no impact on the selection or presentation of the deals.We have made changes in recent months to make this info even more visible. Every deal posted now has a sentence that says – “If you click through or buy using any of our links, retailers may pay hotukdeals some money, but this never affects which deals get posted. Find more info in our FAQs and About Us page”. We had already updated how our editors were displayed on site and have made further amends over the last few months.We want to be the best in the market in terms of transparency, while also being accurate with our users about how we work - and these are not adverts. We’ve looked at other websites who include shopping offers which drive revenue to the publishers, including media titles, with the majority failing to provide the same editorial quality control to deals/vouchers as we do, nor do they explain their revenue or site staff situations as clearly as we currently do. Some fail to mention anything at all despite affiliate links being used, which we believe creates a detrimental, opaque situation for shoppers.However the ASA has made it clear to us that unless we complain about these publishers individually, nothing will change across the industry and individual sites will just be targeted on a case by case basis. We have tried to meet with the ASA throughout this whole process to explain how the industry works and to help come up with solutions that work for all of us and our community and we would still like to do this – along with our colleagues from competitor sites and media outlets if they are willing.We believe our approach to transparency about our commercial model is the most honest and accurate one. We have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and informed of them of some further changes we will be making - we will share those with you here ASAPThe ASA have suggested that you write #ad on your posts – why are you unwilling to do this?This is a solution for social media influencers who are promoting products and services. We’re not doing this and believe #ad would be misleading because of the way the site works – members aren’t posting deals because they want to promote the brand or retailers (we do not allow self-promotion on site) - they do so because they believe the offer will help others save money – this isthe same for our deal editor team.The vast majority - around 95% - of deals posted on hotukdeals are member submitted deals and the rest are posted by our team of deal editors who source offers from their own research as well as working with our partnerships team on market-leading discounts and exclusives agreed with retail partners. As said, we make money through affiliate links, where we have a program in place (operated by an agency), so editors don’t always know which deals are earning us commission. The deals which have been worked on with retailers are not ads – they’re offers that are worked on extensively by our partnership team and deal editors to ensure they are market leading, so our members have access to the best offers to help them save money. This can be a time-consuming process and one that retailers can often get frustrated about as we reject deals that aren’t worthwhile for our consumers (we reject far more than we accept). Those which are accepted for posting are not written as recommendations but as well researched, market-leading deals for our members to decide whether to use to save money. They can be rated by our members as hot or cold as normal without influence from hotukdeals employees or retailers. It’s important to remember that many of our editors and staff were originally members of the hotukdeals community - some from the very beginning in 2004/5. They have experienced knowledge of when a deal is good or not, which is why we have them review any partnership deals as they are the experts and won’t accept any deals that aren’t worthwhile because, like all of us at hotukdeals, the community is the most important part of our business and one we would never jeopardise.We don't think any of this describes a process that can be summarised by the use of the hashtag #ad


@Dan

"Not all of the promotions featured on site are paid for promotions"

How do we the users identify which ones are?
Ivor-NoReasonToCare18/03/2020 10:41

@Dan "Not all of the promotions featured on site are paid for …@Dan "Not all of the promotions featured on site are paid for promotions"How do we the users identify which ones are?


Affiliated links are added and taken off the 'Get Deal' button regularly, retailer-by-retailer, as the links are run through a network. So we put the message into every thread, to cover this.

You can see posts by editors, as it says 'editor' next to their name and avatar.
Dan18/03/2020 09:26

We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this …We have explained for a long time how hotukdeals makes money, and how this has absolutely no impact on the selection or presentation of the deals


You keep saying this - I don't think anyone believes it any more.
Why did @Ivor-NoFuxToGiv comment get deleted after @Dan replied?
rogan179118/03/2020 11:18

Why did @Ivor-NoFuxToGiv comment get deleted after @Dan replied?


They have banned the account
rogan179118/03/2020 11:18

Why did @Ivor-NoFuxToGiv comment get deleted after @Dan replied?



It was an error and we've just returned it.
The weird thing here is when we have had a conversation about the use of advert in a listing, Pepper always says they think it will make no difference to a listing if it has it or not. Yet when the asa say you should put advert on employees postings, be it directly employed or subcontract, they are digging their heels in as hard as they can.

so which is it?
Edited by: "pinkleponkle" 18th Mar
rogan179118/03/2020 11:18

Why did @Ivor-NoFuxToGiv comment get deleted after @Dan replied?


Yes. I'm back.
look forward to seeing threads clearly marked as adverts
Dan18/03/2020 09:44

As I said in the post, we have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and …As I said in the post, we have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and informed of them of some further changes we will be making - we will share those with you here ASAP


look forward to it
Dan18/03/2020 09:44

As I said in the post, we have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and …As I said in the post, we have spoken to the ASA since the ruling and informed of them of some further changes we will be making - we will share those with you here ASAP


what's the latest?
We are still working on the changes
Dan31/03/2020 08:43

We are still working on the changes


But in your post you stated you made them aware of the further changes?

So why not tell us what they are?

Unless you've now changed what your doing?
rogan179131/03/2020 10:25

But in your post you stated you made them aware of the further changes?So …But in your post you stated you made them aware of the further changes?So why not tell us what they are? Unless you've now changed what your doing?


we haven't changed plans - we will show them once we are ready to implement
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