We live in a world of product innovation. There is sea change going on in media and technology. It seems that there is a new media platform and revolutionary device announced every week. Advertising is the currency that allows the offering of free information and services in media to consumers. Consumers absolutely want free content and do not wish to pay for it. Advertising has evolved to keep pace with changes in viewing habits, device use, technology innovation and taste and content. To keep pace with the advertising evolution, there is a critical need for industry self-regulation. This is the role of the National Advertising Division (the NAD).

The best way to establish trust with consumers is to establish standards of ethical advertising behavior and enforce them, which is the job of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC). The ASRC is hosting its NAD Conference September 29 and 30 and its Children’s Advertising Review Unity Conference (CARU) on October 1. Davis & Gilbert is sponsoring the conferences, and among panels and presentations are sessions on best practices for native advertising, the use of social media and surveys in substantiating advertising claims, and creating sound policies for tracking behavior on sites that children frequent.

The Way I See It

  • I see self-regulation as being critically important to help accomplish three key goals:
    • One goal is to ensure a vibrant and well-functioning competitive marketplace.
    • Another is to ensure that consumers are protected and they get what they bargained for.
    • The third is to keep government regulation and involvement at a minimum.
  • The NAD has done an excellent job in helping to accomplish these goals. I see the need for the NAD only increasing in the future.

The Way the Industry Sees It


I sat down with Andrea Levine, a Senior Vice President at Council of Better Business Bureaus and director of the NAD Conference to talk about trends in self-regulation and the upcoming conferences.


What is the role of the National Advertising Division (NAD), and what the key areas of focus and prioritization? Are there specific product categories and/or practices of focus?

NAD’s mandate is straightforward: We examine advertising that is national in scope for truth and accuracy. So, I would say our focus is constant – to assure that the messages conveyed to consumers are truthful, accurate and not misleading – regardless of the advertiser, the product or the medium.  We keep a careful eye on emerging industries or novel product categories and new – or repurposed – advertising channels. For example, NAD decisions have offered advertisers their first comprehensive guidance on Facebook “like-gating,” on native advertising and on claims made in Twitter feeds. As for priorities – it is always our priority to run a sound, user-friendly forum that produces strong, well-reasoned decisions and carefully monitors new claims and emerging issues.

Why is self-regulation so important to the industry?

The self-regulatory system helps level the playing field for honest advertisers who make the necessary investments in claim substantiation; it provides a good education for advertisers who are less experienced and it gives consumers confidence that the claims they read or see are true.

What does future of self-regulation look like?

We expect that monitoring will continue to be a significant part of NAD’s work, particularly in areas where questions are raised about the truthfulness and accuracy of national advertising. We also expect the number of competitive challenges to remain robust and expand to new industries and new products.

What is the role of the NAD with the rise of new media – including social and mobile? What are the challenges faced?

Most of the advertising campaigns we see now include a social-media element – claims made on Facebook on a Twitter feed. As the social-media channels evolve, we will continue to examine claims where they are made. The lightning-fast evolution of social media is wonderful – fascinating and engaging – and it will continue to keep us all on our toes.

What is the coolest object in your office?

One of my personal goals is to travel to one hundred countries. I’m making progress, and my office has a lot of little pieces of art that I’ve picked up as we’ve made our way around the world. But the very best thing I have is an origami box, made by my daughter from twenty-six business cards. I cherish it.