The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU)

CARU, Kids & Advertising

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, has essentially two missions: (1) to protect children from deceptive or inappropriate advertising in all media, and; (2) to ensure that, in an online environment, children’s data is collected and handled in a responsible manner. CARU works with companies to ensure their advertising and data collection practices comply with all relevant laws and CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines, which take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience.

When advertising or data collection practices are found to be misleading, inappropriate, or inconsistent with CARU’s guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of companies.

CARU Supporters

CARU Supporters have access to benefits and resources including:

  • Advertising pre-screening and guidance from CARU staff
  • Free subscription to monthly CARU case reports
  • Invitation to discuss current industry issues and changes at the annual Supporters’ Council Meeting
  • Special rates for members for CARU conferences and events


CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising provides detailed guidance to children’s advertisers on how to deal sensitively and honestly with children’s issues. These guidelines include, but go beyond, the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience. As an extension of its initial mission, in 1996, CARU added a section to its guidelines that highlights issues, such as children’s privacy, that are unique to the Internet and online sites directed at children age 12 and under. CARU’s guidelines were updated in 2014 to reflect changes in COPPA.



When CARU finds advertising to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with its Guidelines, or finds violations of its online privacy guidelines or COPPA, it seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers or the operators of websites and apps. The results of CARU inquiries are publicly recorded in the National Advertising Division (NAD)/CARU Case Reports. CARU also handles advertiser challenges and consumer complaints.



In 2001, CARU was approved by the FTC as the first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Participants who adhere to CARU’s Guidelines are deemed in compliance with COPPA and essentially insulated from FTC enforcement action as long as they comply with program requirements.  



CARU offers an ad pre-screening service for CARU Supporters to help advertisers spot and correct problems before ads are disseminated. CARU advises companies about advertising at all stages, including the conceptual phase, storyboards and rough cuts. CARU also reviews promotions for websites for compliance with its Guidelines as well as COPPA.



To file a complaint or a challenge, please click here


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