Fast Lane: Wider definition of advertising and marketing will give the ad watchdog oversight of your business’s tweets and blog posts

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From next year, it’s possible your business may have to answer questions about the appropriateness of a tweet or the content of a blog post from the advertising watchdog.

SmartCompany readers will be familiar with the work of the Advertising Standard Board and the process that leads to the board ruling certain ads should be pulled.

Television watchers, radio listeners and those who take offence at outdoor advertising can currently complain to the Ad Standards Board, which then reviews the ad and makes a ruling so to whether or not the material breaches the advertising industry’s code of conduct.

While some brands choose to disregard what the Ad Standards Board has to say, there are countless examples of ads being pulled because of the board’s rulings.

However, a recent decision by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) to revise the definition of advertising and marketing communications means consumers will soon be able to complain about much more than TV ads or radio commercials.

The AANA now defines advertising and marketing communication as including direct-to-consumer public relations materials, according to B&T Magazine.

This captures social media promotions, including tweeting, and blogging, for which the brand had produced itself or has control over.

The revised definition, which will come into effect next year, will apply to all of the AANA Codes and will therefore form part of the Ad Standards Board’s remit when assessing consumer complaints.

The AANA says the revised definition brings the Australian advertising codes in line with international standards and brands are already starting to consider what the change will mean for their advertising mix.

This is something SMEs must consider.

It takes just one person to complain to the Advertising Standards Board for a ruling to be made about a particular piece of advertising and re-doing an advertising campaign always comes with a cost.

There is also no shortage of examples of social media stuff-ups that have caused SMEs grief.

Start thinking about your business’s approach to marketing now and if your tweets or blogs could be among those that attract complaints to the advertising watchdog, make sure you’re prepared. 

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Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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