LONDON: By tackling problem ads in a swift and proactive manner, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced its ambition to ensure that every ad in the UK is a responsible one.

The UK advertising regulator used its annual report to highlight its successful interventions in 2013, but also to alert advertisers that its new five-year strategy will place even more emphasis on proactive work, Marketing Week reported.

The strategy, which will be published in the next couple of months, is designed to help the ASA adopt a more proactive approach to address issues of societal concern, such as whether its guidance about food advertising is robust enough.

This could have particular relevance now that almost one-third (31%) of the ASA's casework concerns online ads and that a record number of ads had to be changed or withdrawn last year.

With 31,136 complaints concerning about 18,580 ads last year, the ASA said its work resulted in changes to 4,161 of them while its Committee of Advertising Practice delivered advice on more than 160,000 occasions.

It said successful interventions last year to ensure ads were responsible included making sure letting agents and theatre ticket providers were clear about their fees.

Other work covered new guidance for advertisers in the payday loan sector as well as banning several ads on "copycat websites" from companies charging a fee for services often provided more cheaply or free by the government.

"By listening to consumers and business, we've taken action to stop various advertising techniques that are misleading or simply unfair," said ASA chairman Lord Chris Smith, who went on to emphasise that the overall UK advertising industry is "overwhelmingly responsible".

Data sourced from Marketing Week, ASA; additional content by Warc staff