‘Native’ Marketing Theme to New F.T.C. Regulations

The growth of so-called”native” advertisements on sites has prompted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to issue standards on the content and presentation of that advertising. After almost two decades of meetings, commenting, and discussion, the F.T.C. published its Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertising on December 22, 2015.

This has led to a change in how content-based online advertisements need to be introduced, with publishers and advertisers being required to make certain that customers can quickly determine what is native or non-paid content and what’s paid content. The days of paid content being undistinguishable from outstanding content that’s given by the publisher are coming to a close.

Paid Editorial Not New

The F.T.C. has long had rules regarding advertisements which are in the shape of content on conventional sources, like newspapers, magazines, and television infomercials. By way of instance, in 1968 the F.T.C. published an advisory opinion on newspaper advertisements in the shape of what appeared to be restaurant reviews which were undistinguishable in the news posts.

However before December 22, while the F.T.C. had commented on ads in search engine results, some particular issues like the online advertisement of dietary supplements and some kinds of online endorsements, the F.T.C. hadn’t issued a complete policy to take care of content-based advertisements that seemed like native content. As more comments and complaints arose that customers may have difficultly differentiating between non-paid and paid content, the F.T.C. began to look into the issue.

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Together with the new Enforcement Policy, advertisers now have a set of regulations and rules to follow to make certain that consumers can make educated decisions for content-based advertisements. With the new rules, the F.T.C. has laid out fairly specific guidelines, with illustrations, of when advertisements will need to have disclosures and what those disclosures have to say.

Publishers and Advertisers Must Comply

The two chief areas that the F.T.C. has looked at are what disclosures are required by publishers and advertisers to make sure customers know the content is paid for and what disclosures are required if the advertiser as opposed to the publisher provided the content. In regards to disclosures for all content-based advertisements (if the content is supplied by the advertiser or publisher ), the F.T.C. has said that disclosures for paid-content-based ads should be:

  • In clear and unambiguous language;
  • As close as possible to the ad to which they relate;
  • In a font and color that is easy to read in a color that stands out from the backdrop;
  • For video advertisements, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood; and
  • For sound disclosures, read in a cadence that is simple for customers to follow and keywords customers will understand.

Additionally, the F.T.C. has said that disclosures must be shown on all devices — i.e., phones, tablets and laptops have to have disclosure statements for the exact same advertisement. Furthermore, all platforms must have disclosure statements — if a consumer views an ad using Chrome or Safari, each must demonstrate the disclosure statement. Further, the F.T.C. has stated that advertisements must have disclosure statements which are clear to the audience that the advertising is targeted to. By way of instance, advertisements to children may require different disclosure statements than those targeted to physicians possessing medical degrees.

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Uniform Disclosures

In reference to banner ads where the advertiser provides the articles, the F.T.C. has also said that publishers should have uniformity on a website in order to distinguish between supplied content and non-provided content, where all provided-content ads are labeled one way and all non-provided-content is tagged another manner.

By way of example, a website can’t say”sponsored articles” in some areas and”paid content” in others and refer to provided content advertisements for both. Advertisers and publishers of these advertisements can’t use language to identify ads that is misleading. The F.T.C. has stated publishers and advertisers shouldn’t use phrases such as”encouraged” or”promoted narrative” for supplied content stories as that may be misleading to consumers and does not clearly identify the content has been provided and the positioning of the content has been compensated for.

Another change is that publishers and advertisers must make clear who wrote the articles — an article, movie, demonstration, or similar kind of media format — if the writer didn’t write it and if it’s in any way uncertain who wrote it.

Advertisers and publishers have to make certain that all advertisements don’t mislead”reasonable customers as to its source or nature, including that a party apart from the sponsoring advertiser is its origin.” To do so, publishers and advertisers must always err on the side of caution and ensure advertisements clearly state they are paid advertisements. In case the advertiser provides the articles, it must clearly state the advertiser supplied the content.

Advertisers and publishers can observe the examples listed in”Native Promotion: A Guide for Companies ” to determine whether their ads are up to the F.T.C.’s criteria and talk to their attorneys if any queries arise.

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