Frequently asked questions
What is Ad Standards response to the COVID-19 situation?
Ad Standards is committed to providing a responsive and efficient advertising complaints adjudication system for Australia during this unprecedented time of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Complaints about the content of any advertising or marketing communication should continue to be lodged online.
- Requests for Ad Standards Copy Advice should continue to be submitted online.
We will continue to monitor the situation as we maintain our capacity to provide services while ensuring the safety of our team. Any changes to business as usual, including the timeframes for complaint handling will be published on the website.
How do I minimise the risk of my ads breaching community standards at this time of COVID-19?
As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, advertisers should ensure that the content of your ad aligns with current community standards and Australian Government health guidelines.
To minimise the risk of your ad being complained about, ask the question: does this content meet current community standards?
Who is on the Ad Standards Community Panel?
The Community Panel includes people from a broad range of age groups and backgrounds and is gender-balanced – representative of the diversity of Australian society.>
Why do some case reports refer to the "Board"?
In 1998 following the adoption of advertising self-regulation in Australia, the Advertising Standards Bureau was created. In 2018 the organisation became known as Ad Standards, with the Advertising Standards Board re-titled the Ad Standards Community Panel and the Advertising Claims Board re-titled the Ad Standards Industry Jury. The functions of the organisation and of the Community Panel and Industry Jury remained the same.
Is Ad Standards a government body?
Ad Standards is not a government body. It is the secretariat for the Ad Standards Community Panel and the Ad Standards Industry Jury. Ad Standards is governed by a Board of Directors and is funded by a levy.
How many complaints must be received before Ad Standards will investigate an advertisement?
A single written complaint is sufficient to initiate a formal investigation.
Are all complaints forwarded to the Community Panel?
Not all complaints are forwarded to the Community Panel. Some complaints are not in Ad Standards' jurisdiction, some ads complained about have been considered previously, some are about an issue which the Community Panel consistently dismisses, or belongs to another organisation's charter.
Why can't I lodge an anonymous complaint?
An anonymous complaint is not sufficient to initiate a formal complaint, but it can be included as part of a complaint that has already been raised or is subsequently raised.
How are decisions of the Community Panel made?
The Community Panel considers complaints in light of all of the Codes and Initiatives administered by Ad Standards. It meets twice a month to consider complaints and reaches its decision by way of simple majority. In the event of a tied vote, the Chair has a casting vote. The position of Chair is rotated among Community Panel members on a monthly basis.
What happens when complaints about an advertisement are upheld by the Community Panel?
When a complaint is upheld, the advertiser is requested to remove or amend the offending advertisement as soon as possible after receiving a copy of the draft case report.
What if I don't agree with the Community Panel decision?
If people who originally complained about an advertisement prior to the determination or the advertiser are unhappy about a Community Panel determination regarding a particular advertisement, they may be able to ask for a review of the determination.
What is the Ad Standards Industry Jury?
The Industry Jury provides a competitor complaint resolution service. It is designed to consider complaints involving issues of truth, accuracy and legality of advertising under Section 1 of the AANA Code of Ethics on a user pays cost recovery basis. It comprises variable panels of lawyers appointed on a case-by-case basis from a register of lawyers experienced in advertising and/or competition and consumer law, maintained by Ad Standards.
What type of ads are complained about the most?
Ad Standards receives complaints about all types of ads in all mediums. We keep statistics about complaints. A running tally of complaints is available on our home page, and information about issues most complained about are available in documents we publish such as the Review of Operations.
Why can't I submit a complaint via email?
Ad Standards will normally accept only written complaints – via the online complaints form if complainants have computer access, otherwise by post or facsimile. If complainants submit a complaint by email they will be redirected to the online complaints form. The reasons for this policy are numerous - the online complaints form standardises the complaint lodgement process and allows Ad Standards to collect all necessary data, including complainant demographics, contact information and details needed to identify the ad, which can be missing in an email complaint. The online complaint form's pre-vetting questions help define the scope of the complaint and make sure Ad Standards is the appropriate organisation to accept the complaint and online lodgement of the complaint inputs the information directly to our complaint management system speeds up Ad Standards' ability to action the complaint by eliminating delays associated with manual data re-entry.
Can I lodge a complaint about a competing business?
The Ad Standards Community Panel does not accept competitor complaints. The Ad Standards Industry Jury provides a competitive complaint resolution service.
Why do I need to provide a photo with my vehicle complaint?
Providing a photo of offensive material seen on a vehicle helps Ad Standards to identify the vehicle and advertiser and ensures the advertisement is considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel within a reasonable timeframe.