Online advertising has overtaken direct mail as the third-most criticised medium after television and the national press, according to the latest annual report by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Complaints about online advertising rose by 33% in 2006 to 2,066 complaints, compared to 8,594 complaints for TV ads and 3,370 for ads in the national press. The ASA recorded 1,592 complaints concerning direct mail.
Despite a 14.5% fall in the total number of complaints lodged with the ASA to 22,429, a record 12,842 ads were complained about last year.
Launching the Annual Report, ASA Chairman Lord Borrie QC said: "The Internet is now the second most complained about non-broadcast advertising format - a rise unmatched by any other media."
"Yet the boundaries of regulatory responsibility online are still unclear. The industry needs to address this issue quickly so that consumer faith in online messages can be as high as it is for advertising that appears in traditional formats," he added.
Religious offence, violent imagery and same-sex kisses dominate the list of the top ten most complained about ads, with 2,421 ads changed or withdrawn following ASA action.
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