The ASA is funded by advertisers through an arrangement that guarantees our independence. Also, we receive no Government funding and therefore our work is free to the tax payer.
We’re funded by a voluntary levy, or in simple terms a charge, on the cost of advertising space, i.e. the amount of money advertisers pay media owners, such as billboard sites, newspapers, posters, online etc, to run their ads.
The levy, which is 0.1% on the cost of buying advertising space and 0.2% on some direct mail ensures the ASA is adequately funded to keep UK advertising standards high. For example, that means where an ad cost £1,000 to appear on a billboard, £1 of that would be collected and go towards funding the ASA.
Importantly, it is an ‘arms-length levy’; in other words, we don’t know who is paying it or how much they’re paying so our work and decisions remain independent and unaffected by any considerations around funding. The levy is collected on our behalf by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Asbof) and the Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Basbof).
We also receive a small income from charging for some seminars and premium industry advice services.
The levy system means the ASA has the necessary resources to handle around 30,000 complaints each year and independently check thousands of ads every year. In addition, the funding supports CAP’s Copy Advice service which provides pre-publication advice to advertisers, agencies and the media.
The levy is the only part of the system that is voluntary. Advertisers can choose to pay the levy, but they cannot choose to stick to the Advertising Codes or the ASA’s rulings.
A look at the rulings the ASA publishes each week demonstrates that we apply the Codes without fear or favour. It is common for the ASA to rule publicly against ads by the biggest companies in the UK and the world.
Ultimately, the authority of the ASA system both derives from and is dependent on the long-term commitment of all those involved in the advertising industry. Without this commitment self-regulation simply could not work effectively.
Our financial report can be found in our Annual Report.