Advertising campaigns over $1 million

It’s never been more important that your advertising is effective, efficient and in the interest of NSW customers. Know what rules apply to your campaign and your responsibilities.

On this page

Important changes to regional community advertising requirements

There are changes to requirements and guidance around advertising to regional communities. There is more information further down the page.

In brief

You are legally required to:

You should also:

Read below for more detailed information

Complying with the Act, Regulation and guidelines

Government advertising must be apolitical, which means it can’t be designed to influence support for a political party, minister, member of parliament or candidate. 

In addition to being apolitical, government advertising must be:

  • accurate
  • presented in a fair and accessible manner 
  • in line with branding guidelines
  • sensitive to cultural needs and issues, and reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of NSW
  • respectful in the portrayal of gender and sexuality 
  • inclusive of people with a disability

These rules are set out in the advertising guidelines (PDF 72.38KB)  and legally required under the Government advertising act 2011 and Government advertising regulation 2018

The advertising guidelines (PDF 72.38KB)  also set out the range of objectives advertising can achieve, as well as the standards and principles you should observe when planning, developing and managing NSW Government advertising campaigns.

Multicultural and Aboriginal advertising policy

The policy aims to ensure multicultural and Aboriginal audiences are considered in all NSW Government advertising campaigns. 

The policy requires that:

  • at least 7.5% of an advertising campaign media budget is to be spent on direct communications to multicultural and Aboriginal audiences. From 1 July 2024, this will increase to 9%.
  • spend may be on advertising (paid media) or non-advertising communications activities (for example, events, public relations),
  • the spend under the policy does not include the costs for creative, production of paid media assets, translation, or research.

Get more information on how to apply the policy to your advertising campaigns.

Agencies should also report on these activities as part of the Multicultural Policies and Services Program reporting requirements.

People living with disabilities

There are approximately 1.3 million people with disability in NSW. Awareness of the communication requirements for people with disability is one of the principles covered in the guidelines. 

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, agencies must ensure that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights to access information and services as others in the community.

Agencies should consider:

  • images that are used in advertising are representative of the NSW population and include people with disabilities where appropriate
  • captioning television and other multimedia advertising, and AUSLAN interpretation for people with hearing impairment
  • accessibility requirements for websites
  • information is designed for people living with intellectual disabilities and available in multiple accessible formats.

The Disability Inclusion Act 2014 requires NSW Government departments and agencies to develop and put in place their own Disability Inclusion Action Plan. Refer to your Disability Inclusion Action Plan when planning a Government advertising campaign. 

Regional communities

Regional NSW communities are an important audience for NSW Government campaigns. 

  • When developing NSW Government advertising campaigns, government agencies must ensure they address the needs of regional and rural communities and consider regional media channels including local community media channels. 

  • For advertising campaigns of relevance to regional and remote communities, NSW Government agencies are required to spend at least 26% of their campaign media expenditure on channels targeting regional audiences. This should include expenditure in independent and local print media.

  • Regional NSW refers to areas of the state outside Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.  

Government agency obligations are set out in M2022-12 Advertising in regional media

Tips for effective engagement with regional audiences: 

  • Consider appropriate images and tailored messages and calls to action that will be relevant and resonate with regional communities in the target areas.  
  • Advertising in local and independent media outlets can be effective and efficient. The NSW Government Media Agency Services (MAS) provider OMD can provide expert advice on the suitable media channels to use. 
  • Make clear to the media outlet when disseminating media releases if it is connected to paid advertising placements in that media outlet. They may help with amplification of your messages. 
  • Be informed about the longer publishing lead times and media content deadlines in some regional media outlets to ensure you are providing timely information, especially for specific events.
  • Engage local community-based media to discuss any specific local nuances that may help make communications more effective. This includes regional print outlets, which often play a unique role in their communities by reaching residents who rely on newspapers as their only source of news.
  • Placing advertising in local community-based media (in addition to media releases, media activity and social media) can help ensure local communities are kept informed about government services and information such as: 
    • Events, consultations, and information sessions in their area  
    • Changes or announcements about local government offices and services 
    • Availability of government supports, grants and other programs 
    • Job and business opportunities with government 

Campaign approval process

All government advertising campaigns with budgets greater than $250,000 (excluding GST) must be peer reviewed.

This includes all advertising categories (recruitment, public notices and public awareness campaigns).  

Peer review is a two stage process

Stage 1 - budget approval

Government agencies submit an advertising budget proposal to the Department of Customer Service Campaign Effectiveness Team (DCS team) for each campaign planned for the upcoming financial year. 

The DCS team review the proposals and provide advice to ensure advertising:  

  • is developed in collaboration with relevant agency partners  

  • has evidence of its likely effectiveness 

  • leverages government communication channels 

  • makes use of data and customer and behavioural insights and 

  • contributes to the ambitions and priorities of the All of Government Communication Framework

The DCS team make recommendations to Cabinet. Cabinet coordinates government advertising and provides campaign budget approval.   

The DCS team’s advice to Cabinet may include that: 

  • there is strong evidence of effectiveness and minimal check ins with the DCS team required  

  • evidence and key details are yet to be completed and check ins with the DCS team on a range of areas is advised 

  • resubmission needed - more details and evidence required (we’ll work closely with agency) 

The DCS team might also recommend that some of the budget is approved to conduct research or provide more evidence to support the strategy (these campaigns will go back to a future Cabinet meeting for approval of the remainder of the proposed budget). 

Stage 2 - campaign review

Once you have campaign budget approval, the DCS team will review your campaign, and contact you with what you'll need to do to complete this stage. 

At a minimum, you’ll be required to: 

  • Supply a media plan, creative concepts and complete Stage 2 sections of the Advertising Proposal and Objectives table 

  • Address specialist feedback from the DCS team

All government advertising must be apolitical in line with the Government Advertising Act 2011. Campaign evaluation activity should be clearly linked to campaign objectives. 

What happens next?

After stage 1 and stage 2 are complete, you'll receive a peer review completion letter. Your agency head will want to see the completion letter before signing your compliance certificate. 

After the campaign is completed

You will need to submit a post-campaign effectiveness report the DCS team within three months of campaign completion.  It identifies campaign results against objectives, key learnings and recommendations for future campaigns. 

Learn more about evaluation

Compliance certificates

The advertising compliance certificate is a legal requirement for almost all advertising campaigns.

The advertising compliance certificate is a short statement signed by the head of your agency* (unless exempt) that confirms the government advertising campaign:

  1. complies with the ActRegulation and advertising guidelines (PDF 72.38KB)
  2. contains accurate information NSW Government advertising guidelines
  3. is necessary to achieve a public purpose and is supported by analysis and research
  4. is an efficient and cost-effective means of achieving the public purpose
  5. has completed peer review, as indicated by the peer review completion letter from the Department of Customer Service, and
  6. if total budget exceeds $1 million, has completed a cost-benefit analysis.

It must be signed by your Agency Head* and publicly available (free of charge) on the NSW Government website, prior to the campaign starting.

You can use our advertising compliance certificate template (DOC 68.5KB) or prepare your own.

*The head of your agency is a Secretary or CEO, except where delegated in accordance with the Government Advertising Regulations 2018.


When is a compliance certificate not needed?

You don’t need a compliance certificate for routine advertising under $250,000 (ex GST) as long as:

What is 'routine advertising'?

Routine advertising is defined in Section 7 of the Regulation as

  • information about routine matters relating to the provision of services, including notification of service changes
  • information about requirements imposed on persons
  • community announcements or notices about community events or activities; 
  • notices or announcements required to be made by or under any law; 
  • recruitment notices
  • government tender or procurement notices.

Cost benefit analysis 

For campaigns over $1 million, a cost benefit analysis must be carried out and updated as needed. It is your responsibility to prepare this. 

The cost benefit analysis Framework (PDF 584.81KB) and User Guide (PDF 504.81KB) are helpful resources to use. 

You can also contact Treasury for advice.

How to engage NSW Government's contracted media agency

Optimum Media Direction (OMD) manage media planning and buying services for paid advertising placements for all of NSW Government. All paid media campaigns and related media planning/media strategy work should go through OMD.

A good brief is essential

All NSW Government agencies must submit their media campaign requirements through the online briefing form and attach a completed OMD briefing template (DOCX 383.88KB).

Aim for a detailed and clear brief that includes:

  • background information
  • brand information
  • possible competitive challenges
  • past learnings
  • campaign objectives
  • target audience
  • broader communications strategy
  • campaign logistics and budget
  • in-market dates and timelines.

Please note approval is needed from DCS on Under $250K campaigns to provide a unique campaign code, this is needed to brief OMD within the briefing form. Please refer to: ‘Approval process for campaigns under $250,000'.

Based on your brief and timings OMD will provide suitable service deliverables that include but are not limited to a fully costed media plan.

OMD is remunerated for its services via a flat % fee on the media/activity plan. The same flat fee applies to all media plans/activity regardless of size or type. Read more on the OMD contract scope.

Contact Optimum Media Direction (OMD)

Choose a communications services provider (for services outside of OMD's scope)

Buyers across NSW Government may be familiar with schemes for potential suppliers, such as the Advertising and Digital Communications Scheme. Scheme members are approved suppliers with proven capabilities to deliver specific goods and services. buy.nsw is the one-stop shop for whole-of-government procurement resources and services. The buy.nsw Supplier Hub is the platform where NSW Government buyers and suppliers can connect. 

The Advertising and Digital Communications Prequalification Scheme (the Scheme) lists prequalified advertising and digital communications service providers across a range of fields, including but not limited to, video production, market research and graphic design.

Key Benefits

  • Makes it easier for NSW Government departments and agencies to source approved suppliers for a range of marketing communications services
  • Gives marketing service providers with relevant and proven expertise the opportunity to deliver work for NSW Government
  • Helps aggregate government spending to ensure value for money.

Types of capabilities

  • market research
  • strategy
  • marketing and campaign services 
  • public relations
  • social media
  • Indigenous communications and engagement
  • CALD communications and engagement
  • visual communications
  • written communications
  • digital communications
  • production

Please refer to the Scheme Conditions (DOCX 102.08KB) for more information about the capabilities and services available for prequalification.


    Additional to any guidelines specific to your department, the following procurement rules apply when using a service provider on the Scheme:

    • If the cost is between $50,000 and $150,000 you need one quote.
    • If the cost is more than $150,000 you will need three quotes.

    Formalise your agreement

    We recommend using a standard form of agreement (DOCX 61.68KB) to formalise your agreement with a scheme service provider.

    Please check with your Department’s Procurement Team if any procurement rules apply.

      Suppliers on the Advertising and Digital Communications Prequalification Services Scheme

      If you have a buy.nsw Supplier Hub account and are logged in, you will be able to access to the complete list of suppliers who have been approved for the Advertising and Digital Communication Services Prequalification Scheme.

      If you do not have an account, it is quick and easy to register. You can create your account via the Supplier Hub. Please contact theCampaign Performance Team if you require further assistance.

      If you contact a supplier on the Scheme, we ask that you please fill out this form upon engagement and/or contracting their services.

      Recruitment, procurement and public notices


      Speak with your people and culture division before advertising.

      If you will be placing the advertisement, contact OMD for advice about media options available, costs, geographical coverage of various newspaper titles, dates of publications, booking deadlines, circulation and readership if needed. 

      Public notices

      Public Notices appear on a weekly basis (Wednesday) in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph. Note Public Notice activity also includes any media channels running Public Notice messaging.

      Contact OMD for advice about media options available, costs, geographical coverage of various newspaper titles, dates of publications, booking deadlines, circulation and readership if needed.


      Procurement notices including requests for tender, requests for quote, requests for information and expressions of interest are advertised on the NSW Government e-Tendering website.

      Contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre on 1800 679 289 or email Press advertising of tenders is discouraged.

      Expenditure reporting

      The DCS campaign performance team request information about advertising expenditure from government agencies as needed, including estimated forward expenditure and final campaign costs.

      An updated report is published (every six months) on our website with details of advertising media expenditure by government agencies. 

      We encourage you to publish information about your own advertising programs on your websites. Information may include advertising rationale, objectives, costs and outcomes. 

      Helpful resources

      Need advice?

      The NSW Government Brand and Communications team at DCS can provide support for your campaign. 

      Below is a list of the support services we offer and the relevant contact details.

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