Ad Standards guidelines for influencers 2018

With advertisers using social media influencers as an addition to traditional marketing, individuals needs to be aware that the advertising codes apply to these sponsored posts. 

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) updated their Code of Ethics in March 2017* to include a section on distinguishable advertising. This change was made to ensure that consumers had a clear understanding of when they were being advertised to and applies to all advertising platforms, including social media.

Here are Ad Standards' top tips for ensuring your social media posts comply with the advertising Codes and avoid complaints.

  1. How do I know if my social media posts are considered to be ads?
    To be considered as advertising or marketing communications your posts will need to meet the following criteria:
    a. Does the marketer have a reasonable degree of control over the material?
    b. Does the material draw the attention of the public in a manner calculated to promote a product or service?

    In a previous case considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel, having a contractual agreement with a brand that allows them to remove posts is considered to be a reasonable degree of control.
  2. What rules do I need to follow?
    All advertising in Australia must comply with the AANA Code of Ethics, which includes ensuring the ad is distinguishable as advertising or marketing communications.

    There are additional rules from the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) for advertising alcohol products. This includes the influencer being 25 years or older.
  3.  Does that mean I have to include #ad or #spon?
    There are no rules in Australia that require you to use #ad or #spon. However, the AANA do recommend using it for paid-for posts as it is a simple way to ensure your followers can distinguish it as advertising.

    In a previous case considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel, including the hashtag and handle of the brand being promoted is considered to show that the post is an advertisement.
  4. What happens if someone complains about my post?
    Ad Standards will be in contact with the brand you are working with if there has been a complaint. The case will go to the Ad Standards Community Panel to determine if it meets the standards set out in the AANA Code of Ethics. If the complaint is upheld, you will be asked to remove the post. If the complaint is dismissed, the post is free to stay in its current format.
  5. What resources are available?
    For further information check out the AANA’s Code of Ethics Practice Note, which includes example scenarios to help you determine whether your posts could be considered as advertising.

    Information regarding the additional requirement for alcohol advertising are available in the ABAC Best Practice Guidelines.

    Ad Standards offers a paid-for Copy Advice Service to all advertisers. Before posting online you can request advice on the content you plan to publish and Ad Standards will provide advice on whether it may breach the Code.

All Ad Standards Community Panel determinations are published online at

For the latest news please subscribe to the monthly Ad Standards Bulletin and follow @Ad_Standards on Twitter and LinkedIn.


*The AANA Code of Ethics and Practice Note was again updated in 2021 to further clarify the rules around distinguishable advertising, and is applicable to all advertisers from February 1, 2021. 

4 comment

  • Ad Standards - 29 April 2021 - 1:05pm

    In response to the below comment (27 April 2021):

    Hi there, thanks for raising this with us. This part of the webform you're referring to is not related to influencer advertising content. This section is for environmental and food/beverage claims across all advertising mediums and looks at the truth and accuracy of the information presented in the ad. For instance, if an advertiser makes claims about the nutrition content of a food product, or an emissions claim in a motor vehicle ad.

    If your complaint is about distinguishable advertising, such as an influencer post, you should answer 'no' to the following webform question:
    "Is your concern about the truth and/or accuracy of advertising or marketing communications?"

    We hope this helps.

  • Sick of deceptive advertising - 27 April 2021 - 9:43am

    So, how can complaints be made about deceptive influencer advertising? I recently tried to lodge a complaint through the Ad Standards complaints module and got the below message. Not all influencers are marketing food or making environmental claims so how can the standards be upheld when it comes to other non-food related consumer goods?

    Complaints Module Q: Is your specific concern about the truth and/or accuracy of advertising or marketing communications:
    -for food and/or beverage products; or
    -containing environmental claims?
    Response: The role of the Panel is to consider complaints against the content of advertisements and marketing communications. The Panel does not consider general complaints about the truth and accuracy of advertisements or marketing communications, except for specific provisions identified in the Food and Beverages Code and Environmental Claims Code. Complaints about the general truth and accuracy of advertising claims should be referred to the advertiser or the office of Fair Trading/Consumer Affairs in your State or Territory or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

  • Darell Bustamante - 26 January 2020 - 2:47pm


  • Penny - 9 April 2019 - 9:52pm

    I just want to know what steps have been taken to remove gambling ads off the tv.
    I have just read 50 other complaints regarding this issue and I too share there concerns. How many people have to die through suicide because their gambling addiction has taken everything from them?
    There have been positive steps taken to remove smoking and alcohol ads so please I ask that gambling ads also are removed.
    I wonder when these ads are shown through programs such as Home and Away on Chanel 7 - what age group these ads are intending to reach. I have nieces and nephews who are teenagers who watch tv shows like Home and Away and are exposed to such a negative ad

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