Aims: This narrative review considers traditional strategies for regulating alcohol marketing and their applicability to digital media.
Method: Drawing on international research, case studies, and reports, we examine the applicability of (1) comprehensive or partial bans; (2) placement restrictions; (3) content restrictions; and (4) counter-advertising.
Results: Comprehensive bans on advertising are generally the most effective option. A partial ban applying to digital media would make some lesser contribution to reducing exposure, but will usually simply result in the promotional budget being shifted to whichever media remain less strictly regulated. Limits on the placement of marketing have more salience for traditional media than for most digital media, which can be individualized and targeted. Content restrictions play a limited role in reducing exposure as they are not concerned with marketing volume, but with the way in which alcohol is represented.
Conclusions: Although these traditional strategies have a role in regulating digital media and are applied in certain international jurisdictions, new regulatory approaches are needed. These may include the use of artificial intelligence for monitoring, transparency requirements, and privacy law rights and duties. Opportunities to regulate alcohol marketing online will need to be addressed and seized as they arise in the current volatile policy environment concerning the governance of social media.