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New FTC Native Advertising Guidelines: 3 Things You Need to Know

Posted by Chris Finan on February 10, 2016 at 10:37 AM

Native advertising guidelinesRight before the 2015 holiday season, the FTC released new native advertising guidelines. These new regulations may sound restrictive initially, but they're really just building on existing recommendations, moving toward the goal of transparency in native advertisement. Here's everything you need to know about these newly released guidelines.

Ads Clearly Labeled

The goal of the new FTC guidelines is to help marketers ensure that consumers recognize a native ad as an ad. The FTC recommends that all ads be labeled as advertising using a font that is different from the surrounding content, and that the text's shade should stand out against the background.

Disclosures Displayed up Front

One of the reasons that native advertising has worked so well up until now is because it fit in with the design of the content that surrounded it. Under FTC law, advertisers now cannot use what is called a "deceptive door opener" to entice consumers to unknowlingly view advertising content. Under the new guidelines, advertisers have to make sure that users will be able to identify the ad as such, both on the ad itself and on any click-through button that brings users to that ad.

Building on Previous Regulations

While it may feel like a lot of new rules are being handed down, these regulations are just building upon best practices that many marketers have been using for years. The goal of successful native advertising isn't to trick or hoodwink the reader, but to inform them in a way that feels familiar. For most marketers, native ad creation won't change. If you have been using native advertising in a reputable way, these new regulations shouldn't have any effect on your active campaigns. If these regulations highlight some holes in your strategy that could use patching-up, that's not a bad thing, either.

Marketing Land reported in late 2015 that some consumers were having trouble distinguishing between editorial and sponsored content. These new regulations should help curb that phenomenon while continuing to give marketers the freedom to present advertising content in a way that feels comfortable for the reader, in a context that is familiar. Some marketers might initially feel a little worried about these new rules, but these guidelines will simply help advertisers and publishers reach the ideal balance between a nondisruptive user experience and ensuring that the reader is not confused by native ads.

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