FTC to Study Native Advertising in December25 Sep, 2013 By: Doug McPherson
WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that in its first workshop on native advertising on December 4, it will work to determine if consumers know for sure if sponsored content is advertising, and to examine the blending ads with news, entertainment and other content in digital media.
The session will include industry reps, academics, consumer advocates and regulators to explore “changes in how paid messages are presented to consumers and consumers’ recognition and understanding of these messages.”
Laura Sullivan, an attorney with the FTC, told AdAge that the workshop is being held primarily to better the agency’s understanding of native advertising. But, she added, the agency has examined similar areas such as infomercials, search engine marketing, and advertorials, and in some instances, the FTC has brought lawsuits in those areas.
However, the workshop is not an indication that actions by the FTC are imminent, Sullivan said. “We certainly will weigh the information and consider what the next steps will be,” she said. “I think it’s premature to say that there will be any next steps.”
Digital publishers are looking to prevent the FTC from getting more deeply involved. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) released research in July that showed labeling native advertising clearly was a top priority for its members.
“In a recent survey of OPA members on native advertising, transparency and labeling surfaced as a critical best practice,” said OPA President Pam Horan. “We encourage the industry at large to embrace this as it is not only important to maintaining a trusted relationship with the consumer but demonstrates to lawmakers and the administration that self-regulation works.”
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced in June that it was creating a taskforce on native advertising to explore best practices and definitions. The organization said it will participate in the FTC’s workshop if invited.