ADMA to release new guidelines on back of High Court's decision

ADMA to release new guidelines on back of High Court's decision

The Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) has urged the regulator to provide more clarification for advertisers on the back of today’s Google versus ACCC High Court ruling.  

B&T Magazine
Posted by B&T Magazine

Jodie Sangster, chief executive of ADMA, welcomed the High Court’s decision to clear the search giant of misleading conduct but said the case highlights issues with outdated legislation.

“It’s for the regulator in this case to provide clarity around that rather than bringing actions like this and testing it through the courts,” Sangster (pictured) told B&T.

“If we could have guidance beforehand, and have input into that, that will be more helpful.”

The High Court today said that Google was not responsible for sponsored links or paid for ads that appear in its search results and that Google’s practice of allowing advertisers to buy up rivals trading names on AdWords is not illegal.

“It is the right decision but it is difficult to know where responsibility sits,” Sangster said.

“We have legislation that has been developed many years ago in some cases and we are trying to apply it to a developing area and, sometimes, the legislation can’t cope with it.

“We need more clarity around where responsibilities lie, particularly in cases such as this where there are so many parties involved.”

The long running legal stoush started in 2007 when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused Google and Telstra’s online classified arm, Trading Post, of breaching the Trade Practices Act.

The sponsored links which caused the kerfuffle directed consumers looking for the Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota car dealers to rival Trading Post.

Google was first cleared in 2011 but, on appeal from the ACCC, the Federal Court then found Google wanting before the internet giant brought the case to High Court.

In an attempt to help advertisers navigate the grey areas, ADMA plans to unveil a new set of guidelines tackling this issue in April or May.

Sangster said the paper is one of many guidelines which ADMA plans to rollout throughout the year with the first to be released in March.

The aim of the guidelines are to bridge the gap between “the regulator who obviously wants to see some standards in place and the marketers and advertisers who want to know what their boundaries are,” Sangster explained.

Sangster said she was glad the High Court overturned the Federal Court’s decision: “We really need to be mindful not to stifle the ability of the internet and what it does bring to consumers and the benefits that it brings.”

“The more that we try and constrict that the more likely we are to hamper exactly what the internet is about which is access to information.”