Dr Aimee Brownbill (FARE), Lucy Westerman (VicHealth), Kate Bower (CHOICE) and Erin Turner (CPRC).
Dr Aimee Brownbill (FARE), Lucy Westerman (VicHealth), Kate Bower (CHOICE) and Erin Turner (CPRC).

Dark ads public panel: Issues of online advertising and accountability

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 6 October 2022

The ADM+S Dark Ads public panel brought together government representatives, consumer rights organisations and researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society to discuss key issues in online advertising.

Panel experts discussed concerns about unregulated online advertising practices with examples of predatory advertising, price discrimination, and scam ads and how these practices impact vulnerable consumers. 

The panelists agreed that advertising is becoming harder than ever before to hold accountable and that there is an urgent need for better online advertising transparency and accountability.

Associate Professor Nicholas Carah (ADM+S, UQ) moderated the discussion on the key issues in online advertising.

“We can’t see the ads [that are being delivered online] and this is a concern as advertising plays such a fundamental role in shaping our public life” said Associate Professor Nicholas Carah

“And for some categories we have real questions and concerns for vulnerable consumers and harmful products that we need to be able to address collectively”. 

During the discussion, questions were raised on whether the expanding hyper-personalisation of online advertising still fits within the traditional definition of advertising. 

Panelists discussed future directions for increasing transparency and accountability including policy and regulation, journalistic practices, citizen science approaches and further research.

The discussion amongst this diverse group of panelists helped to raise concerns from different perspectives and highlighted the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle these issues.

Panel 1: Key Issues in Online Advertising

Associate Professor Nicholas Carah (ADM+S, Monash University) moderated the discussion with Kate Bower (CHOICE), Dr Aimee Brownbill (FARE), Erin Turner (Consumer Policy Research Centre) and Lucy Westerman (VicHealth).

Panel 2: Accountability for Online Ads 

Professor Daniel Angus (ADM+S, QUT) moderated the discussion with Simon Elvery (ABC), Samuel Kinnonmonth (ACCAN – The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network), Lizzie O’Shea (Digital Rights Watch), Xue Ying Tan (Jane) (ADM+S, QUT), and Dr Verity Trott (ADM+S, Monash University)

The Hackathon was organised by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) in collaboration with ABC, VicHealth, Digital Rights Watch, ACCAN, CHOICE, CPRC, and FARE.

View panel 1 discussion on ADM+S YouTube 

View panel 2 discussion on ADM+S YouTube