What is self-regulation?
Self-regulation means that the advertising industry has established a system of advertising regulation which operates at no cost to the government or community.
The rules for advertising are expressed in a number of codes developed by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA). The rules are developed and regularly reviewed with input from industry and the community and are designed to ensure advertising meets community standards.
To ensure the integrity of the system, the advertising industry does not administer its own rules. Ad Standards was established in line with worldwide best practice to administer the advertising codes. The Ad Standards Community Panel, which adjudicates all complaints, is independent of the industry and the AANA.
The high level of compliance with the advertising rules and Ad Standards Community Panel decisions reflects the industry’s commitment to responsible advertising practices and the effectiveness of the self-regulatory system.
The value of self-regulation
Australia’s advertising self-regulatory system promotes responsible advertising practices, protects consumers, and promotes trust and credibility in the industry, while also offering flexibility and cost-efficiency compared to traditional government regulation.
- Responsiveness: Self-regulatory bodies can quickly adapt to evolving advertising practices, emerging issues and community concerns, without waiting for lengthy legislative processes.
- Consumer protection: Effective self-regulation protects the community from harmful, offensive or inappropriate advertising.
- Trust and credibility: Effective self-regulation enhances the credibility of the advertising industry. When consumers know that ads are monitored and regulated, they are more likely to trust and have confidence in the industry.
- Cost efficiency: Self-regulation can be a cost-effective alternative to government regulation. The industry bears the costs associated with establishing and maintaining self-regulatory bodies, relieving the burden on government resources. It also eliminates the need for enforcement agencies and extensive legal processes.
- International alignment: Self-regulation allows the advertising industry to establish consistent standards across different countries and regions.
For more information about the value and effectiveness of advertising self-regulation in Australia, read this report from Deloitte Access Economics.
The role of industry
Industry support is crucial to the success of Australia’s world-class advertising self-regulatory system.
- Advertisers help maintain the self-regulatory system by complying with the codes and decisions of the Ad Standards Community Panel and agreeing to pay the self-regulation levy. The levy is set as 0.05% which is equivalent to $500 for every $1 million spent on advertising.
- Media agencies support the system by collecting and remitting the self-regulation levy through their accounting systems.
- Advertising agencies support the system by developing advertising campaigns that comply with the codes and meet community standards.
- Media owners and operators (including digital platforms) support the system by assisting with removal of ads which break the rules.
International best practice
Australia’s self-regulatory system operates according to the best practice principles developed by the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA).
Ad Standards is also a founding member of the International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS). ICAS is a global platform promoting responsible ads through the effective implementation of self-regulatory standards.
The history of self-regulation in Australia
Australia’s current self-regulatory system was established by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) in 1998, however self-regulation in some form dates back to 1974. To learn more about the history of self-regulation in Australia read the 40 years of self-regulation publication.