FTC Native Ads Guidelines – Summary

Native

The FTC, as most reading this know, is the US government agency who monitors and enforces that advertisements are being created and used in a fair, and non-deceptive manner towards consumers.  While the FTC allows for creativity in advertising methods, they take action against deception, and misleading a consumer into submitting their information or purchasing a product that they likely would not have, were the advertisement in a different format, or contained different information.

The FTC very recently issued guidelines regarding Native Advertisements, and how to keep compliant.  We highly suggest that you read the following two documents:

1) FTC’s Native Advertisement Guidelines 

2) FTC’s Deceptive Advertisement Enforcement Info

First, we should explain what Native Advertisements are.  Native Advertising is a type of advertising in which the advertisement itself strongly matches the natural form of the website or content surrounding it.

The very nature of Native Ads is that there is a naturally formed bond between content and advertisement.  Since the Native Ads are typically designed to fit in with cohesion and familiarity, a consumer or website user sometimes will have a difficult time telling the difference between content and ad.  For those of you who watch South Park, 22 minutes of hysterical TV depicts beautifully the confusion that Native Ads can cause:

South Park “Sponsored Content” Episode

Our goal and responsibility as internet marketers is to sell products to people without using false information or misrepresentations to do so.  While website owners/publishers have a strong responsibility regarding enabling native ads on their website, the advertisers themselves have a responsibility, as with all forms of marketing, to ensure that advertisements are clear, conspicuous, and are not deceptive.

The 3 Major Guidelines that the FTC set forth are as follows:

1) Transparency: “An advertisement or promotional message shouldn’t suggest or imply to consumers that it’s anything other than an ad.”

2) Some native ads may be so clearly commercial in nature that they are unlikely to mislead consumers even without a specific disclosure.  In other instances, a disclosure may be necessary to ensure that consumers understand that the content is advertising

3) If a disclosure is necessary to prevent deception, the disclosure must be clear and prominent.

Now, the first two guidelines are pretty clear.  Number one states that transparency is key, and that an advertisements should never try to portray itself as anything but an advertisement.  Think back to the Acai Berry days where “Flogs” and “Farticles” were unfortunately far too common — the advertisements on these landing pages were absolutely non-transparent, portrayed themselves as informative and helpful, but really were misleading users into signing up to a constant loop of rebills and diet products, using false claims of weight loss from fake people.

The FTC gave further insights into guideline number 3 and the nature of disclosures, as it was important for them to be clear & informative on what their idea of “clear and prominent” disclosures are:

  • in clear and unambiguous language;
  • as close as possible to the native ads to which they relate;
  • in a font and color that’s easy to read;
  • in a shade that stands out against the background;
  • for video ads, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood; and
  • for audio disclosures, read at a cadence that’s easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.

Again, please ensure to read the full guideline publication by the FTC:

FTC’s Native Advertisement Guidelines 

They delve much deeper in a very useful way that makes it difficult to be unclear as to what is right and what is wrong.

***As always, you should always consult with an attorney regarding your business and business practices.  While we are happy to share information and form opinions of our own, compliance is of the utmost importance, and affiliates should always be evaluating their ads and landing pages to ensure they are up to code.***

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Additionally, here are some Native Ad Traffic sources that are worth testing:

RevContent

Mgid

Content.ad

Stack Adapt

 

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  1. Thank you for this.

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