What to Know About the FTC's Latest Native Guidelines

By Tinuiti Team

In its goal to protect consumers from deceptive advertising, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a Commission Enforcement Policy Statement that outlines guidelines for native advertising and related content. Understanding the FTC’s position and incorporating these guidelines into your advertising campaign is essential to protecting your brand and maintaining positive relationships with publishers.

What Do the Guidelines Address?

Prior to the FTC’s statement, native advertising often appeared alongside editorial content and even masquerade as such. Now, however, the FTC demands that advertisers label their native works as advertisements so that consumers can tell the difference.

The guidelines require two forms of disclosure: the nature of the work and the person (or entity) involved in its creation. For instance, a native advertising piece might be labeled an advertisement and include a byline that names the author or the company whose representative wrote it. That way, consumers can make an educated decision about whether or not they want to click on links to native content.

How Do You Create Dual Disclosures?

If you’re creating a native advertising piece to drive traffic to your business’s website, you might want to view the FTC’s examples to determine whether or not your content necessitates dual disclosures. For instance, if you publish content that differs vastly from the other content on the page and clearly reads like an advertisement (such as mentioning a specific product and its benefits), you probably don’t need an additional disclosure.

However, if your content blends seamlessly with the rest of the items on the page and doesn’t come across as an advertisement or advertorial, you must make these disclosures. The FTC requires that disclosures appear in a legible font size and in a color that contrasts with the background to ensure consumers can see them.

How Do You Distinguish Between Advertising and Native Advertising?

The FTC is silent on in-feed advertisements that don’t contain useful, actionable content. However, it’s essential to protect your brand and your reputation by labeling advertisements for what they are. Alternatively, you can remove advertisements from within content feeds and move them to traditional banner advertising locations.

Native advertising serves a purpose other than driving traffic. It answers a question, inspires the reader, or provides valuable instructions. An advertisement, meanwhile, serves no purpose other than converting potential customers.

If you’re publishing native ads or advertisements, partner with publications that respect the FTC’s guidelines. It’s essential to distance your business from any company or publication that flaunts the rules and could put your business at risk.

Should You Participate in Content Recommendations?

The FTC is particularly keen to point out the potential hazards of content recommendations that aren’t labeled as advertisements or advertorials and that make unsubstantiated claims. This type of content marketing could prove dangerous for the advertising service, the business, and the publication. Steering clear of such layouts could protect you, and clearly labeling your content will keep you in the FTC’s good graces.

What Role Does Content Partnership Play?

As consumers peruse partner sites, they should be able to distinguish your paid content from purely editorial pieces.

Co-created content, advertorials, native advertising, and other forms of content marketing can muddy the waters concerning disclosure and display. The important thing is to avoid allowing your native advertising to appear without disclosures and to prevent publishers from displaying your content as though it exists primarily or solely for editorial purposes.

The FTC’s new guidelines are just one complex facet of the modern advertising landscape. To gain an experienced and successful partner in your advertising efforts, learn more about our display advertising services.

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