AANA expands ASB scope to ensure native ads clearly marked

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 8 November 2016
An example of native advertising by Fairfax Media.

The AANA has broadened the scope of the Advertising Standards Board so it can hear complaints that marketing content - such as native ads and sponsored content - is indistinguishable from editorial.

The move provides an avenue for the public to challenge brands and publishers that do not clearly distinguish paid content from online editorial, bringing Australia in-line with the UK, New Zealand and International Chamber of Commerce.

“For the vast majority of advertisers, this change will not impact their modus operandi,” AANA CEO Sunita Gloster says.

“The reality is that most already ensure that their commercial communication is distinguishable as such. However, with the rise of native advertising in all forms of media it is timely that we make explicit our commitment to ensure consumers are aware of when they’re seeing or listening to an advertisement.”

Native advertising use has soared in recent years and will soon become the dominant form of display advertising, according to a study by Business Insider Intelligence. In the US, native advertising is predicted to account for 74% of display ad revenue by 2021, up from 56% today.

Although Australia lags behind the US and UK in use, publishers and marketers increasingly view native as a premium display product that can be more effective than standard banner ads and discourage people from using ad blockers.

As native advertising grows, AANA chair Matt Tapper says it is important that advertisers which mislead the public can be held to account.

“Our board is unanimous that a key principle of responsible advertising is that the commercial nature of the communication must be transparent and that brand owners should be accountable to the community for this via the Advertising Standards Board,” AANA chair Matt Tapper says.

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