The Complex World Of Digital Advertising Regulation

Posted by Daad Soufi On July 16, 2015

On a day to day practical level, easy to access information means we have more information and can make more accurate, timely and informed decisions. 

There isn’t much we would do without the help of the internet and there isn’t much we cannot do with the internet.  We may be using social media apps to stay in touch with our friends and to tell the world what we are up to, read the newspaper, share our favour moments through photos, watch TV and videos, search for our closest restaurant or do our banking.  All of these activities are made possible by the exponential growth in digitised and interactive online content which is accessed and delivered through the internet and in most cases in the presence of online advertising.  Consumers have adapted to the e-commercialisation of products and services and so too has the growth in interactive advertising.

At a commercial level, interactive digital advertising is a multifaceted practice involving several areas of expertise including but not limited to: content creation, technology build, media broadcasting, and copyright development, making representations, collection of personal /non-personal data, data aggregation and across multi-platform and multi-device communication channels.  Collectively, these practices overlap each other, cross a number of businesses and portray a multi-dimensional digital life cycle.  Because of the diversity of conduct involved and the associated impact on consumers, there are a number of legal and regulatory considerations that arise at each stage of the digital life cycle, therefore more than one arm of government is involved in overseeing our industry which is also complimented, where possible by self-regulation.

The IAB has developed a Digital Advertising Policy Regulation Guide 2015 that provides an overview of the rules and regulations affecting our digital advertising environment.  Working in the digital advertising industry requires an awareness of regulatory acronyms such as ACCC, ACMA, ASIC and OAIC (also known as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner, Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Office of the Australian Information Commission).  Each of these regulators focus on a different area of digital content production, that includes (at a high level, but is not limited to) representations made through copyright, media content and digital delivery, corporate conduct and privacy (respectively).  Added to this regulatory framework is the self-regulatory initiatives of membership associations like the IAB and AANA that collaborate with members to produce industry wide standards and guidelines about specific conduct that may not be specifically scrutinised by the regulators (which as an industry we prefer to keep at arms-length from the regulators).

The IAB Digital Advertising Policy Regulation Guide provides an overview of the key regulatory obligations and helps to ensure that we keep a watching brief on changes to the regulatory landscape.   For more information or to discuss the contents of this Guide, please contact Daad Soufi, IAB Director-Legal and Regulatory Affairs at or by contacting 02 9211 2738.

Daad Soufi