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126/09 15 October 2009
The OFT has today launched two separate market studies into advertising and pricing.
Following consultation on its plan to study advertising and pricing practices, the OFT has decided to split the work into separate, tightly-defined studies focused on two distinct issues.
The first, into online targeting of advertising and prices will cover behavioural advertising and customised pricing, where prices are individually tailored using information collected about a consumer's internet use. It is expected that this study will be completed by spring 2010.
The second, into advertising of prices, will consider various pricing practices which may potentially mislead consumers. The study will look in particular, but not exclusively, at how these practices are used online. It will examine practices including:
It is expected that this study will be completed by summer 2010.
Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director, said:
'These studies will ensure that we keep up to date with the latest developments and, in particular, on how new pricing and advertising practices are emerging and evolving online.
'It is very important that the OFT's approach to potentially misleading practices remains well-informed by a sound evidence base, so we effectively protect consumers while allowing firms to compete freely.'
1. The OFT started consulting on the proposed advertising and pricing market study on 19 August 2009, see press release 103/09 for details.
2. Possible outcomes as a result of these studies may include:
3. Market studies are conducted under the OFT's general function under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002, which includes the functions of obtaining information and conducting research.
4. Behavioural Advertising uses information collected on an individual's web-browsing behaviour to select which advertisements to display to that individual.
5. The OFT is unable to provide advice or resolve individual complaints for consumers. Consumers can seek advice from Consumer Direct (tel: 08454 04 05 06, www.consumerdirect.gov.uk).
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