Effectiveness of regulatory policies on online/digital/internet – mediated alcohol marketing: a systematic review
The rapid growth of digital advertising has led to new regulatory challenges arising for a majority of world countries, including EU Member States, most of which have not yet enacted statutory and/or co-regulation measures to monitor and restrict digital advertising of alcoholic beverages. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic literature review, whose objectives were to identify research articles and other studies examining the impact of existing regulation of digital alcohol advertising practices, notably on social networking sites and video sharing platforms. Our research focused on determining the effectiveness of current policies, means of enforcing them and identifying any specific differences in policy approaches.
We conducted a systematic search through three major peer-reviewed journal databases (WoS, PubMed, Scopus). Studies were included in our review if they were published in English, after 2004, and assessed any population-based or specific group-targeted regulatory policy intervention enacted by an EU or non-EU governing body, nation’s governmental agency or private entity, with the intent to monitor, restrict or otherwise control digital alcohol advertising. In addition, we conducted a manual search of grey literature through various international, governmental, and independent research organizations’ websites.
A total of 4690 records were identified. After duplicate removal and full text assessment stages, 15 articles are currently examined in the ongoing review. Preliminary results indicate a lack of developed effective regulation of digital alcohol advertising primarily on social networking sites and video sharing platforms, instances of under-aged access to alcohol marketing messages, cases of violations of marketing codes and self-regulations by alcohol industry on various digital mediums, and utilization of grey-area approaches to bypass existing regulations.
Our research carries practical implications for discussion and potential enactment of future digital alcohol advertising legislation and/or other co-regulatory frameworks.