Native advertising – or ads designed to mimic the look and feel of editorial content – has become an increasingly important practice for publishers trying to engage today’s savvy, ad-blocking web users. As native advertising continues to evolve, the Federal Trade Commission is concerned that consumers may not be able to differentiate advertising from other content. Late last month, this concern prompted the FTC to publish Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses, a supplement to its Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements. These guidelines provide clear recommendations and examples about what is and is not acceptable in terms of digital native advertising.
So how should your brand react to the new guidelines?
The general consensus among marketing and PR pros is that the new guidelines simply reinforce the same principles they have been following all along: as long as sponsored content is compelling, entertaining, and tells a valuable story to your audience, it will comply with FTC guidelines. However, you can avoid crossing over into deceptive territory by reviewing some key takeaways before creating or placing your next native ad.
The Key to Compliance is Transparency
As always, your goal as a marketer is to be as transparent as possible. While a native ad should never suggest to consumers that it is anything else, ads that are less obviously promotional should include a disclosure alerting consumers. These disclosures should:
- Appear as close as possible to the native ads to which they relate.
- Communicate in clear, unambiguous language (the FTC recommends terms such as “Advertisement,” “Paid Advertisement,” “Ad,” or “Sponsored Advertising Content” rather than “Promoted” or “Presented By,” which can be misleading).
- Utilize conspicuous visual cues to distinguish sponsored content, such as easy-to-read fonts, colors and shading.
- For shared or linked ads, the disclosures must travel with the ad content.
- In multimedia ads, disclosures should be delivered to consumers before they see or hear the related message. Disclosures should be visible on all devices and platforms consumers may use when encountering the ad.
At I3M Communications we take complying with FTC regulations and protecting our clients seriously.
I3M Communications has years of valuable experience in many online disciplines, including Design and Development, eMarketing and Consulting.