What is advertising?

Advertising is form of marketing communication that aims to persuade and influence people to take a specific action, like buying a product or using a service. 

The advertising codes apply to all forms of advertising, including tv ads, radio ads, print ads (e.g. newspapers, magazines), outdoor ads (e.g. posters, billboards), digital ads, advertorials or infomercials, events and sponsorship, social media ads or sponsored content, or direct mail.  

The AANA Code of Ethics defines advertising as:

Any material which is published or broadcast using any Medium or any activity which is undertaken by, or on behalf of an advertiser or marketer, over which the advertiser or marketer has a reasonable degree of control, and that draws the attention of the public in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct.

In determining whether something is an ad, we consider four key things:

  1. Is it something broadcast, published or organised by an advertiser?
    The definition is broad and covers much more than traditional advertising. Activities undertaken by an advertiser, such as street performance, may be considered an ad.
  2. Is it under the reasonable control of an advertiser?
    Even if there is no payment involved in the creation or placement of the content, Ad Standards will consider something an ad if it is something the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control over.
  3. Does it draw the attention of the public to promote or oppose something?
    If the material or activity draws the public’s attention in order to promote (or oppose) a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct, it is considered an ad.
  4. Is it advertising to Australians?
    Ad Standards will consider all advertising where any of the customers of the product or service are in Australia and the advertising can be seen or heard by those customers.

We accept complaints about all types of advertising, including:

  • those shown on any medium, including television, radio, cinema, outdoor, online and social media
  • applications or games designed by an advertiser to draw attention to a particular product or business
  • sponsorship announcements such as “this program brought to you by . . .”
  • advertorials and infomercials, including programs or parts of programs designed to attract consumers’ attention to a particular product
  • community service announcements
  • user generated content which is communicated via a site or digital platform over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control
  • content which refers to or depicts a product or service as part of a program’s script or other content, including superimposed text or visuals
  • public relations material.

What is not an ad

Ad Standards does not accept complaints about:

  • product packaging or labels
  • corporate reports including corporate public affairs messages in media releases and other media statements, annual reports, statements on matters of public policy
  • ads on TV, TV on-demand and radio which promote a program or programs on the same channel or station the ad is broadcast on.
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