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Regional publisher rapped over ‘misleading’ TV advert

A property website run by newspaper publisher Newsquest has been rapped for a TV advert which included a “misleading” claim.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the advert for s1homes, which is part of Newsquest’s Glasgow-based Herald and Times group, should not be broadcast again in its current form.

A complaint was made by rival property website Rightmove which challenged a claim by S1homes that it was “Scotland’s biggest property site with over 30,000 homes to buy or rent”, saying it also had more than 30,000 properties available.

In its response to the complaint, s1homes said it had over 30,000 homes available to buy or rent and that no other Scottish property site, which was specifically based in Scotland, had more homes.

The company also provided data that compared the number of properties advertised on its website with the other main Scottish property sites over a four week period leading up to the first broadcast of the advert.

The claim had previously been approved for broadcast in other adverts and had been shown on air for a year and a half without complaint.

But in its ruling, the ASA upheld the complaint by Rightmove, ruling that s1homes’ claim on being the biggest property site in Scotland was ambiguous.

It said consumers could either interpret the claim to mean that s1homes had more properties than any other Scottish-run property site or that they had more properties available within Scotland than any other site.

The ASA said: We considered that the claim “Scotland’s biggest property site with over 30,000 homes to buy or rent” was ambiguous and that s1homes should therefore hold evidence that substantiated each of its likely interpretations.

“Because we had not seen comparative data that showed s1homes had more properties available to buy or rent in Scotland than any other property portal website, we concluded that the claim was misleading.”

The advert was found to have breached codes on misleading advertising, substantiation, qualification and comparisions.

It must not be shown again in its current form and the ASA told s1homes to ensure its comparative claims were clear and unambiguous in future.