Do you use native advertising? On December 22, 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “issued an enforcement policy statement explaining how established consumer protection principles apply to different advertising formats, including ‘native’ ads that look like surrounding non-advertising content.”
The primary purpose is to ensure that consumers are undeceived by native ads that look like nearby content that is not advertising.
Use of native advertising is common on websites.
For example, you’ll likely read a news story in one column and find a related advertorial selling a product or service right next to the news story. Although this is good from a marketing conversion standpoint, without proper disclosures, the FTC may consider the practice deceptive because it confuses readers into mistakenly believing an advertisement is really objective news.
To ensure compliance and avoid getting into legal trouble with the FTC for native ads, you’ll want to check out the following resources.
- FTC Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements
- Native Ads: A Guide for Businesses
The guide linked to above provides a good overview plus examples to help you obey the law.
What do businesses need to know to ensure that the format of native advertising is not deceptive? The Enforcement Policy Statement explains the law in detail, but it boils down to this:
1. From the FTC’s perspective, the watchword is 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.
Questions About Native Advertising?
Of course, if you have any questions about the advertising content on your website(s), consult with an Internet business lawyer.