Promotional and advertising material on agency websites

Advertising is defined as selling agency website space to commercial entities for the paid placement of advertisements (ads) on agency websites and displaying the name, logo, product, or service of a non-government entity in exchange for money, services, or other special consideration.

Why must I?

The Government has decided that agencies must not sell advertising space or host commercial advertising on their websites. Selling and hosting commercial advertising on Government websites may:

  • compete with or detract from the effectiveness, integrity and appearance of the Australian Government Branding requirements for websites
  • involve the risk of contradiction between government messages and those of advertisers
  • introduce intrusions into the privacy of users by using information about user behaviour to sell advertising space and by collecting and disclosing information about user interaction with the website to the advertiser
  • create the impression of Government endorsement of the advertised products or services
  • annoy users, who expect the Australian Government web estate to be non-commercial in nature and free from the intrusive distractions typical of web-based advertising.

This position is consistent with the requirements of the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct.

Exceptions

This prohibition does not apply to other forms of government marketing such as promotion and sponsorship.

Promotion

It is part of normal government business to promote an agency’s activities, the activities of other agencies and even the activities of non-government organisations if this is consistent with the agency’s role and functions. It is consistent with the role and functions of many agencies to conduct social marketing campaigns or to promote initiatives, events and conferences, which may involve the participation of non-government entities.

An example, which involves the promotion of other government initiatives, is the inclusion of promotional banners and links to agency initiatives on australia.gov.au. This is a legitimate promotional activity because it is part of the role and function of the Department of Finance to promote the activities and campaigns of other Australian Government agencies on this website.

Another example, which involves the participation of non-government entities with commercial interests, would be the Green Vehicles Guide website. This website promotes the use of fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles by allowing people to compare the efficiency of various vehicles. It promotes the use of fuel-efficient cars as part of the Government’s environmental policy, but does not endorse any particular fuel-efficient car over another.

Sponsorship – of a third party

One example of sponsorship is where a government agency sponsors a third party (e.g. a commercial entity who hosts a conference or event relating to the agency’s role or function) and the agency includes a link to the third party’s website on the agency website. The link should be placed on the agency website in a context that clearly indicates the nature of the relationship between the agency and the third party (i.e. one of sponsorship for a purpose rather than a general endorsement).

Sponsorship – by a third party

An alternative sponsorship arrangement that may occur is one where a third party sponsors a government program and the responsible agency agrees (as part of the formal sponsorship agreement) to add a logo and/or a link to the third party’s website on the agency website. The link should be placed on the agency website in a context that clearly indicates the nature of the relationship between the agency and the third party (i.e. one of sponsorship for a purpose rather than a general endorsement).

Free products and services

Mentioning and linking to free reader software, like Adobe Reader, is permitted where it is related to government requirements to provide information in accessible formats. It is recommended that these be text links – not the logo of the software.

Bureau of Meteorology website advertising

In the 2012-13 Budget the Australian Government announced a trial of commercial advertising on the Bureau of Meteorology’s (the Bureau) website.

The Bureau has developed an online advertising policy to guide the management of advertising on the Bureau’s website.

In the 2013-14 Budget the Australian Government announced funding to enable the Bureau to host commercial advertising on its website on an ongoing basis.

This exemption does not extend to any other Australian Government agencies.

Last Reviewed: 2014-01-24