Founded as the Association of National Advertising Managers, it was established June 24, 1910. At the time there were no standards for advertisers that wanted to reach potential customers on a regional or national basis. Among the organization's goals: to improve cooperation between manufacturers and dealers; to substantiate magazine circulation claims; to enhance advertiser-agency relationships; and to establish national standards for measuring advertising results.
Within four years of its first meeting, the association had formed the Audit Bureau of Circulations to confirm circulation figures and media rates. It also formally changed its own name to the Association of National Advertisers to better reflect its intentions.
The ANA played a key role in the development of the Crossley rating system, launched in 1930 as a joint effort between the ANA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the chief organization representing U.S. advertising agencies, to establish standards for commercials airing on radio networks. The Crossley rating system gave advertisers "a rough measure of how many listeners they reached." The need for additional industry standards gave rise to the Traffic Audit Bureau, formed by the ANA and industry groups in 1934, and the establishment of the Advertising Research Foundation in 1936, which was spun off from an ANA committee.
In 1942, the ANA helped establish the War Advertising Council to support the sale of war bonds. After World War II, the renamed Advertising Council began working on other public service issues-such as support for the Red Cross and anti-pollution measures-through pro bono advertising with media time donated by member organizations.
In 1963, the ANA and Four A's established the Joint Policy Committee for Broadcast Talent Union Negotiations, which negotiates contracts with the Screen Actors Guild, Screen Extras Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians.
The ANA plays a large role in industry self-regulation. In 1971 the ANA, the Four A's and the AAF, with funding from the Council of Better Business Bureaus, launched the National Advertising Review Board to act as the appeals level of the National Advertising Division of the BBB. Complaints about the honesty of a particular ad go to the division. Subsequently the mission was expanded with the Children’s Advertising Review Council, which created and enforces a code for children’s advertising and marketing.
The ANA's current mission is to help its member companies build their businesses by building their brands. Representing more than 300 major companies with 8,000 brands that collectively spend more than $100 billion in marketing communications and advertising, the group's members market products and services to consumers and businesses.
Membership dues are linked to a company's advertising expenditures. For most companies, ANA dues are in the range of only a thousandth of 1% of expenditures for advertising and related services. ANA dues are tax deductible, with the exception of a percentage that is earmarked for lobbying expenses.
The organization maintains offices in New York and in Washington. The Washington office primarily serves as the organization's legal and regulatory "listening post," coordinating lobbying efforts on issues of concern to the advertising industry and serving as the industry's voice before federal, state and local governments. This office lobbies against anti-advertiser legislation, such as unreasonable taxes and restrictions, and represents advertiser interests before regulatory agencies and within industry councils.
The ANA is led by a board of directors that is elected by the membership at the annual meeting and business conference each fall. The ANA also selects a new chairman each year, while the ANA staff is led by President-Chief Executive Officer Robert Liodice. The board of the ANA is comprised of as many as 31 directors, elected by the organization's membership. The ANA invites its members to serve on its 18 committees, which identify issues, new trends and opportunities in their specific areas of advertising, marketing and promotion. The ANA's Web site is at www.ana.net.