We’ve all seen the “Around The Web” and “You May Also Like” content recommendation lists at the bottom of articles on publisher sites such as CNN, Slate and NBCNews.com. Now a UK-based advertising watchdog has ruled that these lists do not properly disclose that the article suggestions are actually paid ads.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which has no power to actually ban or fine organizations, issued a ruling that found its labeling of the native ad-style content recommendations was not adequate after looking at an example from UK-based publisher The Independent.
The ASA said the heading didn’t make it clear to consumers that the recommendations were sponsored and that the link to a “Why these ads” from the Outbrain logo at the bottom wasn’t obviously clickable.
In response to the ruling, Outbrain is changings its headlines to say “Promoted”, “Sponsored or “Promoted Stories”, as shown on an article on The Independent today.
In a blog post, Outbrain co-founder and CEO, Yaron Galai, said other changes include underlining “Recommended by” to signal it’s a link and changing the Outbrain logo to the full logo in words and not the Outbrain icon. The company said it will take some time to change the language and appearance across all publishers.
The ruling, along with the attention brought earlier this week to SocialChorus’s sponsored post campaign for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, spotlight the growing pains of the still-nascent native advertising landscape.
Outbrain says it has been working with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the UK and the European Union and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the IAB in the US for over a year on industry standards. The IAB established the Native Advertising Taskforce to establish guidelines for native advertising. The group released the Native Advertising Playbook in December of last year.
The Online Publisher’s Association shows 90 percent of US publishers already offer or plan to offer native advertising opportunities in 2014. A BIA/Kelsey predicts predicts brands will spend $4.57 billion on social native ads by 2017.