Native Guidelines

The time when display spend surpasses search in the US may have arrived. Emarketer estimates that in 2016, display ad spend in the US will reach $32 billion, compared to $29 billion in search spend. Much of said evolution is being stimulated by the growing availability of Native advertising formats.


Many summarize Display as the leaderboard and medium rectangle banners, but ignore the blossoming of other formats which are transforming the digital advertising marketplace.

While display advertising does include a great deal of standard banners, so too does it include new Native advertising formats. This is a great new scalable and efficient way to reach target audiences, however, we must be careful.

As native ads have become progressively popular, some have debated that the only reason they’re effective is because consumers can’t tell them apart from actual content. Differing, advocates say that they provide a better user experience given their less intrusive nature.

Stepping in to judge the debate is the FTC. They have issued a clear set of guidelines for publishers and marketers in an attempt to prevent native advertising formats from becoming intrusive and violating consumer protection laws. Specifically the agency has published this enforcement policy.

The guidelines can be to a certain extent summarized by the following points:

  1. The key is transparency. An advertisement or promotional message shouldn’t suggest or imply to consumers that it’s anything other than an ad.
  2. Some native ads may be so clearly commercial in nature that they are unlikely to mislead consumers even without a specific disclosure. In other instances, a disclosure may be necessary to ensure that consumers understand that the content is advertising.
  3. If a disclosure is necessary to prevent deception, the disclosure must be clear and prominent.

David DeCairano
Digital Media Strategist

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