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BizReport : Advertising archives : January 05, 2016

FTC lays down rules for native advertising

Getting around the increasing number of ad blockers is just one reason why native advertising has become a popular alternative to traditional formats, but the FTC is cracking down on those who might seek to disguise ads as content.

by Helen Leggatt

Disclosure and transparency are of paramount importance when it comes to native advertising, and the FTC has warned that such a format must make itself known to readers. In a nutshell, "an ad shouldn't convey that it's anything other than an ad".

To enable advertisers to keep themselves in line with FTC expectations regarding native advertising, an enforcement policy statement and business guidance document have been released.

Firstly, the FTC demands that ads are recognizable as such and that involves adequate disclosure. "Advertising and promotional messages that are not identifiable as advertising to consumers are deceptive if they mislead consumers into believing they are independent, impartial, or not from the sponsoring advertiser itself", says the FTC in their enforcement policy statement.

Then there is the question of a disclosure which, says the FTC, must be "sufficiently prominent and unambiguous to change the apparent meaning of the claims and to leave an accurate impression". The adequacy of a disclosure will be determined by whether "reasonable consumers perceive the ad as advertising". Suggested disclosure format could be "Paid Advertisement" or "Advertisement" and must be in the predominant language of the content in which the ads are inserted. The more a native ad is similar in format and topic to content on a publisher's site, the more likely that a disclosure will be necessary to prevent deception.

Such disclosures must also be clear and prominent across all mobile devices and platforms as well as within email, social media or other newsfeeds and content recommendation widgets.

Finally, the FTC makes it clear that it's not just advertisers that could come under the cosh for falling foul of native advertising regulations. Publishers, agencies and ad networks will also be held responsible for non-compliant native ads.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: advertising, native advertising, online publishing, regulation

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