Native Ads

Last week, the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) announced a new expedited process for digital advertising challenges.  The SWIFT (Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track) Process will allow businesses to address concerns of transparency and truthfulness on an accelerated basis, with decisions rendered within twenty business days of case initiation.  The SWIFT process is currently limited to challenges involving one of three issues:  the prominence or sufficiency of disclosures, including disclosure issues in influencer marketing, native advertising, and incentivized reviews; misleading pricing and sales claims; and misleading express claims that do not require review of complex evidence or substantiation such as clinical testing or consumer perception evidence.
Continue Reading The BBB’s National Advertising Division Launches Fast-Track SWIFT Process for Digital Advertising

By Megan Rodgers

The FTC today announced that it reached a settlement with Lord & Taylor over a native advertisement and promotion that relied on social media “influencers” to promote a particular product.

This was the first native advertising settlement reached by the FTC since it issued its Policy Statement on Native Advertising in December 2015.

The campaign at issue involved Lord & Taylor’s promotion of its Design Lab clothing collection, which featured a paisley asymmetrical dress.  The FTC identified two problems with Lord & Taylor’s practice.
Continue Reading FTC Settles With Lord & Taylor Over Native Advertisement and “Influencer” Promotion

By Megan Rodgers

The Federal Trade Commission today issued an Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements.  The Policy Statement addresses occasions in which certain media outlets blur the traditional line between advertisements and editorial content, and seeks to clarify advertisers’ and publishers’ obligations regarding native advertising and social media.

Native advertisements can take a variety of forms, but all are intended to look “native” to the outlet in which they appear, unlike traditional display or pop-up advertisements.  As native advertisements have become increasingly popular over the last several years, they have also garnered the attention of the FTC.

In December 2013, the FTC held a workshop on native advertising and brought together academicians, publishers, and ad networks.  Around that time, industry groups such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the American Society of Magazine Editors created best practices in the area, and the industry anticipated that the FTC would publish additional guidance on the issue.

In a press release accompanying the Policy Statement today, the FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said that the “FTC’s policy applies time-tested truth-in-advertising principles to modern media.”  In addition to the Policy Statement, the FTC released an accompanying guidance, “Native Advertising: A Guide for Business,” to help companies understand and comply with the Policy Statement.  The guidance provides examples of when and how to make effective disclosures in native advertisements.
Continue Reading FTC Issues Policy Statement on Native Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop on December 4, 2013 in Washington, DC to examine so-called “native advertising.”  This term refers to the practice of blending advertisements with news, entertainment, and other content in digital media and is sometimes also referred to as “sponsored content.”  As an FTC blog post explains, “[w]hatever the name, it’s for sure ads in digital media are starting to look a lot more like the surrounding content.  What are the consumer protection implications now that those lines appear to be blurring?”

According to the Commission, the workshop builds on previous Commission initiatives, such as the Dot Com Disclosures guidance and the Endorsements and Testimonials guidance, to “help ensure that consumers can identify advertisements as advertising wherever they appear.”  The FTC noted a number of questions and topics that may be covered at the workshop, including:

  • What is the origin and purpose of the wall between regular content and advertising, and what challenges do publishers face in maintaining that wall in digital media, including in the mobile environment?
  • In what ways are paid messages integrated into, or presented as, regular content and in what contexts does this integration occur?  How does it differ when paid messages are displayed within mobile apps and on smart phones and other mobile devices?    

Continue Reading FTC Announces Workshop To Examine Native Ads