Since its inception in 1998, the Advertising Standards Bureau has continued to grow and make milestone achievements which highlight the benefits of advertising self-regulation to the community and advertisers.
One of the most obvious examples of the growth of self-regulation is the number of Codes and Initiatives now administered by Ad Standards. In 1998 there was just one—the AANA Code of Ethics. Today there are seven industry Codes and Initiatives which cover general advertising, and more specific sectors such as food and automotive advertising. In the first year of its operation, Ad Standards received just under 1400 complaints about 267 ads. In the past year we received over 3600 complaints about almost 500 ads.
The growth in mediums has been rapid in the past few years, and Ad Standards systems keep pace. At its inception, the self-regulatory Codes covered only advertising on traditional media (TV, radio, print, cinema and outdoor) which was shown to broad national audiences. This is now extended to digital media (internet, mms, sms), outdoor (from transport to sports stadiums to sky banners), social media (YouTube, Facebook,) with everything from local to national advertisers included in the self-regulation remit.
To maintain pace and set benchmarks in complaints administration, Ad Standards is constantly working to implement initiatives which improve the complaints system and benefit the community, advertisers and self-regulation in general. At the outset Ad Standards had only a manual system of complaint lodgement. Over the years this has been improved, with web based complaints accepted since 2006 and a mobile and tablet friendly complaint lodgement facility added earlier this year.
The procedures and systems implemented by Ad Standards over the past 15 years have helped in achieving speedy complaint resolution. In 2012, the time taken to finalise all cases—from receipt of complaint to publication of a finalised case report—was 35 calendar days for cases dismissed and 36 calendar days for cases upheld.
During the past 15 years Ad Standards has worked to achieve best practice in complaints administration, applying world’s best practice principles. Ad Standards has developed international affiliations through its membership of the European Advertising Standards Alliance. Ad Standards assesses its complaints administration achievements against benchmarks set by EASA best practice principles. In line with these practices, Ad Standards has increased Board member numbers and meeting frequency, introduced an independent review process, prepared determination summaries as guides for industry and the community and set international and national benchmarks with community perceptions research.
Importantly, during the past 15 years, Ad Standards has worked closely and cooperatively with industry organisations, government and the community to ensure the systems in place are robust, transparent, efficient and accessible.