Advertisers and publishers always say they label native ads clearly enough that readers can tell ads from editorial content. But now that the FTC has issued tougher guidelines for native ads, some of them might have to change their practices.
For one thing, the FTC doesn’t like the labels “promoted” or “promoted stories,” saying they can be misleading to consumers. Publishers should use words like “ad,” or “sponsored advertising content.” The FTC allowed that using the advertiser name in the label (“Promoted by [advertiser name here]”) was reasonable. Still, that leaves a lot of publishers with a lot of work to do.
Only 30 percent of publishers are in compliance with the FTC’s new guidelines that address how ads are labeled, visibility of sponsor name and prominence of the label, said Todd Krizelman, co-founder and CEO of MediaRadar, which tracks and analyzes ad data. Fully 26 percent of websites run native without mention of the sponsor at all, his data shows. “The majority of publishers are actually going to be impacted by this announcement,” he said.
For starters, virtually no publishers use the word “advertisement” in their labeling. A review of 63 publishers’ native ads by native ad firm Nudge shows the most common terms were “sponsored,” used by 12.7 percent; “presented by” (9.5 percent); and “sponsor story” or “sponsored story” (7.9 percent).
The biggest offenders of the guidelines are going to be the content recommendation engines like Outbrain and Taboola, said Kunal Gupta, founder and CEO of Polar, a native ad platform. “These companies offer ad content typically labeled ‘from around the Web’ and ‘recommended for you.'”
Taboola’s widgets, for example, are often labeled as “promoted” or “sponsored” links and carry the industry standard ad choices icon to indicate that the content is an ad, but will review its current practices in light of the FTC news, said Shelly Paioff, deputy general counsel and head of legal at Taboola in the U.S. An Outbrain rep said that the labeling on its widgets is up to the host publisher, but that Outbrain has taken steps to make sure its paid listings are clear to users, including adding its “Recommended by Outbrain” statement.
Sites like the New York Post, below, which is typical in its labeling approach, could be in for some heightened scrutiny:
Now, the FTC says ad labels not only need to be clearly described, but stand out enough to get noticed — by size, placement and color. People often arrive at a native ad post through social side doors, so the FTC says that disclosures should be clear and prominent on the post’s page. “Because consumers can navigate to native ads in different ways, a clear and prominent disclosure also should be presented on the click-or tap-into page on which a complete native ad appears,” the FTC said.
One publisher that may fall short of this guidance is BuzzFeed. On its native ad article pages, the advertiser gets a byline as a “brand publisher.”
Similarly, this native ad on Cosmopolitan lists Cosmo plus the advertiser in a byline without spelling out the advertiser’s role in the post. The FTC says advertisers should avoid using “[c]ompany logos or brand names unaccompanied by a clear text disclosure.”
One a reader clicks through to a post, the FTC also says that publishers should make sure the disclosure is placed near the headline. “Consumers are most likely to notice and understand disclosures that are placed immediately in front of or above a native ad’s headline,” the new guidelines read
The FTC might have had in mind examples like this on Elite Daily, where the reader has to scroll down past the headline and image to see the disclosure.
Miguel Burger-Calderon, chief strategy officer at Elite Daily, insisted the publisher “always clearly labels its sponsored content.” The other aforementioned publishers declined to comment or haven’t responded to a request for comment.
Media Briefing: What Axios’ sale says about the valuation of digital media companies
In this week’s Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione looks at what Axios's sale to Cox Enterprises signals about the current investment market for media companies.
Amid gloomy forecasts can ad tech weather the storm?
The recent Q2 results suggest there is more resilience and runway in the ad tech sector. But how long before push comes to shove?
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research deep dive: Twitter’s strength holds among publishers
There is perhaps no social media platform that is more appropriate for publishers than Twitter. In this Digiday+ Research deep dive, we look at why this is.
SponsoredWhat gaming habits reveal about media consumption
Jordan Shlacter, head of research, Activision Blizzard Media Entertainment choices have never been more abundant, and gaming has emerged as one of the biggest winners in the battle for audiences’ attention. While gaming’s exponential growth has been well documented — there are currently nearly 3 billion gamers worldwide spanning a diverse set of demographics, interests […]
La razón por la que Google y Samsung se asociaron con la personalidad de TikTok Addison Rae para una campaña nostálgica de los años 90
Este verano, Google y Samsung han lanzado su último esfuerzo de marketing conjunto, en el que los gigantes de la tecnología y el hardware aprovechan la nostalgia de principios de los años 90 y utilizan a la TikToker Addison Rae como musa de la generación Z. En su nueva campaña publicitaria con Rae, Google cuenta […]
Las publicaciones invierten en más reporteros especializados en criptomonedas
La semana en que el mercado de las criptomonedas se desplomó a mediados de junio, Fortune envió a Jeff Roberts una oferta para convertirse en su editor de criptografía y supervisar la creación de un equipo de periodistas. Estas circunstancias llevaron a la redactora jefe de Fortune, Alyson Shontell, a hacer una pausa y a […]