LONDON: New rules from the UK advertising regulator came into operation yesterday, requiring broadband operators to show greater transparency in their pricing claims.

This follows research earlier this year by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which found that four-fifths (81%) of UK consumers were not able to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract while three-quarters (74%) believed that information about one-off and ongoing costs following an introductory period was unclear to some degree.

The ASA now requires clarity around those areas that could have misled consumers as to the costs they faced.

Specifically, any price claims made by broadband providers must now show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs – line rental cannot be shown separately.

And the up-front costs, such as fees for delivery, installation and activation, need to be given greater prominence, as does information about the length of the contract and any new prices that kick in after an initial discount period.

"We expect to see a change in how broadband providers advertise their prices," declared Guy Parker, ASA chief executive. "The effect should be a real positive difference in how consumers understand and engage with ads for broadband services."

The effect may also be to shift the focus of broadband ads away from price as this will now inevitably appear higher than before.

"While price claims may appear higher under our changes, they will present a more transparent picture of the cost of signing up to a broadband package rather than consumers getting a surprise when they get their bill," an ASA spokesman  told Marketing Week.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff