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Advertiser: Digital Marketing Institute
Medium: Internet (Company Website), Internet (Search Advertisement)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.26
The advertisement was seen on both the company website and as a sponsored advertisement on Google and advertised their Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing course. The advertisement promoted a ‘30%’ off sale on the condition that prospective students enrolled by a particular date.
The complainant said that when the enrolment deadline passed, the ‘30% off’ sale line remained on the website advertisement and a new enrolment deadline specifying a later date was given. The complainant believed that the advertisements used false limited time offers to pressure prospective students into enrolling.
The advertisers said their approach to pricing and discounts was done on a monthly basis dependent on internal and external factors. They said that as the course operated on a monthly intake, the discount applied to a cohort that was finalized at the end of the month and was a limited offer with respect to that month’s cohort. The advertisers explained that they discussed the next month's campaigns and pricing regularly and that they often changed the price, or ran A/B*1 testing on pricing, or introduced seasonal discounts like Black Friday, or pricing for new products being launched. They said that ultimately these pricing campaigns all typically pointed towards a limited time offer because of the monthly intake and their monthly pricing review.
They clarified that recent pricing had persisted with a ‘30% off’ discount offer on their Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing course since March 2022, but they clarified that this could change the next month or the month after. The advertisers said that monthly intakes, monthly price reviews and price changes could be demonstrated historically. In relation to the historic monthly price changes, the advertisers advised that the pricing campaign of the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing course ran as below:
- Full price between February and June 2021.
- 25% off from June to December 2021.
- 30% off in January 2022.
- 30% off and full price in February 2022.
- 30% off in March 2022.
- 35% off for AMA members in April 2022.
- 30% off from May to August 2022.
*1 A/B testing—also called split testing or bucket testing—compares the performance of two versions of content to see which one appeals more to visitors/viewers. It tests a control (A) version against a variant (B) version to measure which one is most successful based on the chosen key metrics (https://www.oracle.com/ie/cx/marketing/what-is-ab-testing/.)
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted that the advertisers conducted monthly price reviews and that any given pricing campaign was dependent on internal and external factors. The Committee noted the historic monthly price changes relating to the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing as provided by the advertisers.
The Committee took into consideration the Code requirement that if a marketing communication creates an impression that a product was previously offered at a different price, it should be the case that the product was previously offered at the specified price openly and for a reasonable period of time (4.26). They considered that the historic monthly price changes did not sufficiently demonstrate that the course was offered at a higher price for a previously reasonable period of time. The Committee therefore considered that the advertising was in breach of Code section 4.26.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.