AANA and Advertising Standards Bureau to merge boards

Association insists the move will retain the credibility of the advertising complaints system will addressing rising costs around the self-regulated model

The AANA and Advertising Standards Bureau will join forces at a board level in a move the pair say will future-proof and streamline Australia’s self-regulatory system for advertising while still retaining the independence of the complaints body.

Under a resolution confirmed on 2 May, the AANA and ASB opted to amalgamate their respective boards and will hold an election process at the AANA’s general meeting in November to elect a new single board. The board is expected to include representatives from the AANA’s member base, wider advertising ecosystem and the community.

AANA chair, Matt Tapper, said the changes will reduce complexity and bring down costs while still retaining the independents of a complaints process.

“They will have no impact whatsoever on the independence and transparency of Ad Standards complaints and adjudication processes, which will continue to be administered independently of the AANA secretariat, by its own chief executive and staff,” he said.

The AANA labelled the decision the first stage in a series of moves aimed at future-proofing the self-regulatory system and dealing with rising costs. The association said it will now also embark on formal consultations with industry participants with the aim of evolving the self-regulatory funding system.

Historically, advertisers supporting the self-regulatory system have voluntarily paid a small level on their media spend, collected by the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) media agencies.

“This levy funds the independent adjudication system and to date, this mechanism has served us very well,” Tapper said. “However, the increasing migration of advertising to the digital space has led to more advertising content and hence increased the workload and operating costs of Ad Standards.

“At the same time, there is a growing trend for advertisers to pay major publishers and digital platforms directly and that has the potential to significantly lessen the funding for self-regulation through the current collection mechanism.”

To combat this global challenge, the AANA will also actively engage with respective associations globally to source alternative funding models, Tapper said.

“This is a long-term project, but given the future media landscape, it is only sensible to commence formal discussions now,” Tapper added.

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