Conar discusses advertising based on algorithms and artificial intelligence

Dec 21, 2021

Hyper-personalized advertising communications with the aid of algorithms and artificial intelligence are increasingly present in the daily life of consumers; however, new developments require new precautions. One situation of concern, for example, is the need to prevent the crossing of data collected for the individualization of advertisements to generate distorted advertisements, in which the content does not reflect the real availability of the products offered, their prices, and the terms of acquisition.

In one of its last sessions of 2021, the National Advertising Self-Regulation Council (Conar) dealt precisely with this issue, having published its decision last week, given the novelty and relevance of the subject.

The decision took place within the scope of Representation initiated ex officio by Conar due to a consumer complaint (Rep. No. 203/21), regarding a product search in an online catalog from the digital platform (in this case, it was a film from Globoplay’s catalog in a search engine). The dynamic advertisement you received in return for completing the survey informed you of the availability of the product, but you were not properly informed of the details of its availability.

Given this, the generated advertisement could violate article 23 (“the ads must be done in such a way as not to abuse the consumer’s trust, not to exploit their lack of experience or knowledge, and not to benefit from their credulity“) and article 27 (“the ad must contain a true presentation of the product offered”), among others, of the Conar Code of Ethics.

In its defense, the defendant clarified that the advertisement was formulated automatically by the search engine’s algorithms, a mechanism that several advertisers use. Despite being a very useful feature, the algorithm crosses keywords during the search and presents them as a personalized content result, which does not always generate precise information about the product. More details of the offer, however, can be accessed on the link recommended by the search engine.

In this case, Conar understood that the questioned advertisement did not necessarily contain inaccurate information and that it was up to the consumer to analyze the data of the offer when contracting the service. Therefore, the Council decided to file the Representation. In any form, the case was made public, and the vote of Rapporteur Ana Moisés was used to alert “the various advertising chains and Advertisers that it is mandatory to understand and keep up to date with the transformations, alterations, and improvements of the algorithms, so that they generate correct and quality advertising, which support consumer choice.”

Additionally, the information that Globoplay would be working (together with Google) to avoid this type of confusion through particular techniques, like, for example, inserting a keyword combinations block list that could cause a conflict of understanding for consumers, was considered positive.

The full decision is available on Conar’s website.