IAB Concerned About FTC Guidance on Native Advertising

Trade Bureau Agrees That Disclosures Are Necessary to Inform
Consumers, but Questions Government Role in Writing, Designing Ads

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
today praised the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) work to provide
guidance to the media and marketing industries on the use of ‘native
advertising,’ but questions several elements of the FTC Guidance. The
trade organization intends to seek more clarification from the
Commission, particularly on provisions in the guidelines that could
impinge on commercial speech protections and longstanding advertising
conventions familiar in other media.

“We very much appreciate the hard work the Commission has done to
understand the issue of native advertising, and applaud the Commission
for putting native advertising guidance into the marketplace,” said Brad
Weltman, Vice President, Public Policy, IAB. “While guidance serves
great benefit to industry, it must also be technically feasible,
creatively relevant, and not stifle innovation. To that end, we have
reservations about some elements of the Commission’s Guidance. In
particular, the section on ‘clarity of meaning’ in native advertising
disclosures is overly prescriptive, especially absent any compelling
evidence to justify some terms over others.

We take the Commission’s final note to be a sign that enforcement in the
native advertising space is not far behind this announcement. We hope
that the cooperative, thoughtful and considered approach the Commission
took in their exploration of this topic is reflected in future
enforcement actions as we all move forward together to inform,
entertain, and edify consumers, not fool them.”

The IAB, through the work of its Native
Advertising Task Force
in particular, has led the digital marketing
and media industries in stressing the importance of clear, prominent
consumer disclosures in native advertising. The trade organization has
also been at the forefront of highlighting the important distinction of
disclosure both before the consumer clicks on a native ad or
other form of sponsored content, and after the click, when the
consumer arrives at the destination site or page.

In 2013, as native advertising was starting to gain momentum, IAB
released the “IAB
Native Advertising Playbook
,” the most comprehensive framework yet
developed for understanding native advertising options. The Playbook
focused deeply on the importance of eliminating marketplace confusion
and provided “Recommended Industry Guidance for Advertising Disclosure
and Transparency” for the ad units most often described as ‘native.’ In
June of this year, IAB released an “In-Feed
Deep Dive
” document, which was a supplement to the original Playbook
that focused exclusively on in-feed ad formats across various feed types
and emphasized the importance of disclosure.

In 2014, IAB released ”Getting
Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View
,” a comprehensive study
of U.S. online news users by IAB and Edelman Berland. The only
significant consumer research to date on the value of sponsored content,
the IAB/Edelman Berland study indicates a high degree of knowledge on
consumers’ part about what sponsored content is; in particular, it found
that overwhelming majorities of business and entertainment news
audiences (82% and 85% respectively), could easily identify in-feed

Over the course of the last two years, IAB has counseled the FTC about
the diverse and complicated world of native advertising. IAB
participated in the Commission’s first workshop on the issue “Blurred
Lines: Advertising or Content?” and invited the Commission to
participate in an IAB hosted follow-up workshop one year later at IAB in
New York City.

“The IAB has been vocal that regardless of context, a reasonable
consumer should be able to distinguish between what is paid advertising
and what is a publisher’s editorial content,” added Weltman. “While we
are pleased that the Commission Guidance concurs with this point of
view, some of these new mandates require further consideration in order
to best serve both the media and marketing industry, as well as
consumers who turn to the web for free, ad-supported news, views,
information, and entertainment.”

The IAB Native Advertising Task Force, in conjunction with IAB Public
Policy Council, will convene on January 5, 2016 to discuss the recently
released FTC documents to provide more specific formal comments.

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and
marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised
of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are
responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising
or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online
advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the
IAB develops technical standards and best practices and fields critical
research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands,
agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital
marketing. The organization is committed to professional development and
elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the
workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy
office in Washington, D.C., the IAB advocates for its members and
promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to
legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered
in New York City and has a West Coast office in San Francisco.


IAB Media
Laura Goldberg, 347-683-1859