IAB ‘concerned’ by new FTC guidelines for native ads

Jan 5, 2016 | Content marketing, Online advertising, Regulation

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has voiced concerns about details of the Federal Trade Commission’s new native ads guidelines, calling them “overly prescriptive.” “While guidance serves great benefit to industry, it must also be technically feasible, creatively relevant, and not stifle innovation,” said Brad Weltman, IAB’s vice president of public policy. With regulators struggling to get […]

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has voiced concerns about details of the Federal Trade Commission’s new native ads guidelines, calling them “overly prescriptive.”


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“While guidance serves great benefit to industry, it must also be technically feasible, creatively relevant, and not stifle innovation,” said Brad Weltman, IAB’s vice president of public policy.
With regulators struggling to get right approach for digital, the FTC in the United States is the latest to weigh in with a set of guidelines for marketers sponsoring content online.
The new FTC guidelines aim to make sure consumers aren’t misled by native advertising, which are paid ads designed to look like a publisher’s editorial content on the web.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau said it agrees with the FTC that disclosures are needed to help consumers identify native ads, but the organisation said it takes issue with some of the regulatory body’s guidelines, particularly rules that could “impinge on commercial speech protections.”
“While guidance serves great benefit to industry, it must also be technically feasible, creatively relevant, and not stifle innovation,” said Brad Weltman, IAB’s vice president of public policy, in a statement. “To that end, we have reservations about some elements of the Commission’s guidance.”
The FTC issued an 11-page guide for businesses to help them comply with its policy on native ad disclosures, including guidance on where to place disclosures and terms to use to make sure consumers understand when a post is a native ad versus an editorial story.
The IAB, in particular, took issue with the “clarity of meaning” section in the FTC’s guidelines, calling it “overly prescriptive, especially absent any compelling evidence to justify some term over others.”
“Ad avoidance has become common in all media. Native advertising is the publisher’s response to this, but it would be a mistake to treat today’s native advertising as an indication of tomorrow’s will look like”, explains Danny Meadows-Klue, President of the Digital Training Academy, and one of the creators of the original digital marketing regulatory framework in the UK. “People are marketing-savvy and know when they’re being marketed at, so the formats and approaches will continue to evolve rapidly to find ways to maintain cut-through. The trick is to regulate for tomorrow, not just today, and to focus on guiding principles such as transparency and consent for the use of data.”
Brands have been spending more on native advertising as they seek to reach consumers with less intrusive and more engaging online ads. For publishers, native ads often command a hefty premium over other types of online ads, which consumers have become adept at avoiding.
The IAB said it has counseled the FTC about native advertising over the past two years and participated in the commission’s workshop on the issue. The trade group’s native advertising task force will convene next month to provide more specific comments on the FTC’s new guidelines.

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