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New Social Media Guidelines Released by Interactive Advertising Bureau Australia (“IAB”) – Should businesses adopt them or proceed with caution?

Social MediaOn 29 April 2013, the IAB (the peak industry body for online advertising in Australia) released Social Advertising Best Practice Guidelines (“Guidelines”) for paid social advertising.


These Guidelines comprise of:




  1. paid media – where a financial investment is made to place a marketing message.  An example would include a sponsored blog post;



  2. owned media – which is owned and controlled by a brand such as social media business pages and mobile apps; and



  3. earned media – which is driven by consumers sharing conversations and engagement on social networks and blogs.





The Guidelines aim to outline common local practices, which include:




  1. a social media planning process;



  2. a measurement framework;



  3. privacy guidelines on capturing data, data disclosure and data usage.




Their aim is to provide information, structure, and clarity to marketers and agencies in better utilising social media as a marketing vehicle, in particular in relation to setting clear campaign objectives and achieving measurable outcomes.


These Guidelines have been created to assist businesses, however it is recommended that businesses evaluate whether each statement within the Guidelines is appropriate for their business before automatically implementing them. 


Page 20 of the Guidelines states, “that publishers are not responsible for user generated comments on social platforms such as Facebook until such time as they are notified of abusive comments and have an opportunity to further investigate and take any appropriate action”, however this is inconsistent with recent decisions handed down.


In recent cases, including those described in previous blogs, businesses have been held liable for third party content posted on their page.  It is recommended that any business adopting IAB’s Guidelines have regard to the recent decisions and remove any content that is misleading or deceptive.  Otherwise, by failing to remove such content, the company will be held to have published it. 


The IAB have also recently made available Guidelines for Social Media Comment Regulation, Conduct of Ad Verification; and Prevailing Mobile and Tablet Advertising Formats for the Australian Market and in its attempt to make interactive advertising a simpler and more attractive medium for agencies, advertisers and marketers in Australia’s thriving digital economy.


Despite businesses seeing these as an easier alternative to creating their own social media guidelines and policies, without reviewing the Guidelines closely, businesses may potentially be exposing themselves to legal liability.


Have you used other guidelines in your business that have been developed by organisations or industry bodies? Did using them work for your business? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on those guidelines. Let me know in the comments below.


If you have any questions about the recent release of social media guidelines, the team at Coleman Greig can assist you. Our team of experienced lawyers run a variety of social media seminars and workshops to educate organisations on the ever changing nature of social media, from preventing the woes of misuse and utilising social media platforms to your advantage.


If you need any further assistance, please contact our experienced lawyers (02) 9895 9200.