The FTC exists to enforce regulations that “prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.”
The FTC released some specific guidance in Dec 2015 regarding native advertising. The FTC recognizes that native advertising has become a core part of monetization on the modern web, and has taken steps to make their overarching principles applicable to the new advertising model.
With regard to native advertising, the FTC’s guidance relates primarily to consumer perception and understanding. With this guidance, the FTC is seeking to make sure consumers understand the relationship between the publisher, advertiser, and content author.
Sharethrough firmly supports this guidance and has always sought to make clear and prominent disclosure (including working with the FTC directly over the years). Clear and honest disclosure underpins the longevity of the native ad market. An ecosystem built around consumer understanding sets up a paradigm in which marketers continue to strive to create content that users truly want to read, watch, and share.
While the native ad industry in general is all over the map here, with many having a shocking lack of disclosure, Sharethrough leads the charge and has had clear brand disclosures from the outset, as illustrated in Sharethrough’s ad designs and standards.
Enforces a policy that all placements have a disclosure clause
Maintains the following best practice recommendations and defaults, among others:
Ad units are distinguished by a background color shade
Disclosure visually precedes the bulk of the ad unit, and in particular should be above the headline
Enforces that the disclosure clause consistently contains the word Advertise (or a variant thereof) and the name of the brand on ALL placements - this is not configurable by publishers for third-party-sold ads (via both Sharethrough direct-sales and third-party RTB sales) that Sharethrough delivers to the publisher.
Publishers are allowed to adjust the disclosure on direct-sold campaigns where they can decide which term most appropriately and clearly communicates to the consumer - for these ads Sharethrough is not involved in the advertiser/publisher relationship and disclosure decisions.