The IAB released the first part of its new guidance relating to native advertising formats today, focusing on outlining good practice relating to the display of native advertising within online and mobile content.
In particular, the IAB concentrates on how companies can effectively make use of native advertising whilst still remaining compliant with the various pieces of advertising regulation within the UK: the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales
Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).
What are the key messages?
The IAB is attempting to reinforce the message that native advertising needs to be clearly denoted as such and is not in any way exempt from the requirements of the CPRs and the CAP Code as applicable to any other advertising format. Consumers should not need to scrutinise the content in detail to establish whether it is genuine, not paid-for content from the website in question or promoted content.
Specifically, the three key principles issued today by the IAB are:
Provide consumers with prominently visible visual cues enabling them to immediately understand they are engaging with marketing content compiled by a third party in a native ad format which isn’t editorially independent (e.g. brand logos or design, such as fonts or shading, clearly differentiating it from surrounding editorial content).
Ensure that the publisher or provider of the native ad format uses a reasonably visible label. The language of the label must demonstrate a commercial arrangement is in place. (e.g. ‘paid promotion’ or ‘brought to you by’).
Ensure that the content of the ‘marketing communication’ within the native distribution format adheres to the CPRs and the CAP Code.
Alex Stepney, Public Policy Manager at the IAB explained the intent behind the new guidance:
Paid-for advertising units which are deliberately designed to replicate the look and feel of the editorial content that they appear against need to be obvious to consumers… [These] guidelines help companies involved in developing and publishing such native ad formats to provide the necessary levels of transparency to consumers and uphold the integrity of online advertising.
The IAB expects to publish Part 2 of this guidance in Q2, 2015. Given that the guidance issued today is very high level and acts as a teaser into the more detailed guidance to come, it remains to be seen what specific, actionable examples and practices the IAB recommends going forward.
Nothing released today should come as a shock to anyone working in the native advertising space. It should act more as a reminder of existing responsibilities rather than causing concern. Given the early stage of development of the market, native advertisers have an opportunity to proactively establish and influence best practice and should seize this chance. The exact nature of how the above principles should be implemented remains open to interpretation – putting in place clear, unambiguous identifiers for consumers at this stage will help to retain consumers’ trust and ensure that native advertising continues to move forward with integrity and without hindrance.