|U.S. F.T.C.: Online Ads Must Be Clearly Marked as Ads To Avoid Deception|
|The growing online usage of ads designed to blend in with the rest of a website's content, a practice known as "native advertising," may be illegal in some instances, the Federal Trade Commission warned on Wednesday. |
The FTC said that a survey of online publishers found that 73 percent allowed native advertising, the digital descendent of the newspaper "advertorial" and television's infomercials.
"Marketers have ... moved past the banner ad into advertising that is more seamlessly, and inconspicuously, integrated into digital content," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a speech that opened a conference on "Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content."
"While native advertising may certainly bring some benefits to consumers, it has to be done lawfully," she said. "By presenting ads that resemble editorial content, an advertiser risks implying, deceptively, that the information comes from a non-biased source."U.S. F.T.C.: Online Ads Must Be Clearly Marked as Ads To Avoid Deception [reuters.com]
I wonder if this is why Google is testing these higher profile ads.
Google Testing AdWords With Bright Orange/Yellow "Ad" Logo [webmasterworld.com]
The press release was dated yesterday. I wonder if Google got advance notice of this public statement from the FTC? This might explain why Google has been testing it for so long.
It seems the FTC wants to wage small time battles, which are more of a burden on little mom & pops, instead of going after the real aggressors that are stifling competition on the internet. Slapping Google on the wrist for major infractions, or closing cases against them because they are too complex, and instead hammering mom & pops for putting banners on their sites for trivial issues is just crazy.
I wonder how many little guys will just switch to compliant adsense banners instead of paying graphic designers to fix banners or coders to add a visual disclosures? The FTC helping Google grow its market share. What a superb idea!
So, are paid links now "illegal" - subject to hefty fines and penalties - IF not plainly marked?
Are guest blog posts, not plainly marked for their intent to drive traffic ("This post is actually an ad!") subject to fines and penalties?
What about infographics?
Must the notice or disclaimer be posted in plain sight?
I SO love the radio ads where someone blasts out the advertisement and then whispers, at 1000 words a minute, the disclaimer. I also love the tiniest of print, rapid screenrolls, at the end of TV commercials. Is THAT EFFECTIVE disclosure? If it's not readable or comprehenable then how on earth does it protect consumers and how on earth is in COMPLIANCE WITH or GIVE EFFECT to any FTC policy? How on earth is THAT BS behavior passing FTC scrutiny after all these years?
IF THAT behavior is still tolerated, and plainly it is because its ubiquitous, then I say it's any anything goes world when it comes to disclaimers . . and protecting consumers.
C'mon FTC. Clean out the old garbage before attempting to sweep up the new garbage.
This is very interesting. MUST be the reason Google has started rolling out the yellow ads labels on mostly long-tail keywords.
maybe G was consulted about FTC concerns which might lead to rule changes.
|advertising that is more seamlessly, and inconspicuously, integrated into digital content |
does this mean if it is seamed and conspicuous, FTC thinks it's ok?
like a clickable banner which is a different color than the rest of the page. or a block of text links with a border.
|Is THAT EFFECTIVE disclosure? |
It is if the law doesn't explicitly say otherwise. I don't know how common this is, but if you skim my state's civil code you'll notice a trend: If it's a law mandating some type of disclosure, it will include an express numerical minimum point size, or rules for visibility from some distance in the case of things that have to be posted. I'm surprised you don't see more contracts whose footer is in one of those artsy scripty fonts whose x-height is about half what it would be in Times Roman.
I don't think any jurisdiction in the world has a meta-law that says each new law must include a clear description of how it is to be enforced, and how much the enforcement will cost. I suppose you could engage summer interns (unpaid) to spend 40 hours a week just surfing the web. You'd have no shortage of applicants; "interned at FCC" is bound to look good on a resumé and your parents don't need to know exactly how you spent that summer in DC.
Maybe Google will add this to their list of site penalties. If the human Google algo reviewers think that your advertising is not up to spec with disclosures you'll get a penalty until you fix it. Dumping your advertising and replacing it with AdSense will result in an automatic penalty removal and bump your site back to its original rankings.
If we take Google as an example, the adwords entries on Google do not look like and ad. Clever marketers have made the ads look like organic entries in the serps.
|If we take Google as an example, the adwords entries on Google do not look like and ad. Clever marketers have made the ads look like organic entries in the serps. |
today was the first time (for years and years) i actually clicked on an Ad (thinking it was an organic result) in the SERPS.
this was a search for a company name - the company's actual organic result was underneath the ad (ie, 1st organic result).
it will be interesting to see what bing does with their ad format
I'm wondering about things like commenting platforms (Disqus, for example) that mix in "results from around the web" that are actually sponsored, or news sites like the NYT or Slate that have a lot of this stuff formatted as regular content. There's a ton of big players counting on that revenue stream right now, apart from Google.
|maybe G was consulted about FTC concerns which might lead to rule changes. |
Or maybe Google's lawyers just saw which way the wind was blowing. The FTC has been moving in this direction for quite a while now (e.g., with the disclosure requirement for "endorsements" or sponsored posts on blogs, which was first announced in 2009).
I think I recall Brett posting something years ago on this forum, to the effect that everything in the SERPs is advertising. The grey area is huge.
What about an author writing about writing, with some reference to their books? What about a politician or a political campaigner putting forward a certain point of view? Or a charity or local group talking about an event? All of those could be considered advertising, and the payment might not be explicit but that doesn't mean the host webmaster isn't getting something out of it.
Google I'm guessing threw one heck of a party when Eliot Spizter blew his own polictical career. Spitzer, as far back as 2007, was essentially demanding of Google the transparency that appears to be finally rolling out. Google caught a huge break (almost 6 years and billions of earnings) in the time that Spitzer's been away from politics.
LOL, just visited a site that has convincing Gurgle ads disguised as the main site links, including the names of them. I was sent there by Yahoo.....
Oh, and the content is from another site, I'm guessing it's stolen......:P
Running tight ships, these companies are, tight ships. Ships is spelled right, isn't it?
If you are searching to buy something, what does it matter to the user, if they click on the top organic result vs the top adwords result.
The top organic result, got to it's position based on SEO and relevance. The top adwords got to it's position based on relevance, quality score, and what the advertiser is willing to pay.
To the consumer is should make no difference, in the user experience. Google please keep the soft white on white differentiation between paid and organic advertising, and get rid of that bright yellow "ad" logo.
Is Google is forced to identify advertising so blatantly, CTR is going to crash.
lgn1 you make some good points.
I don't understand why the FTC would care about the user clicking on a paid ad versus an organic result since the user is not being charged - only the advertiser is. The advertisers probably don't want the the bright yellow "ad" logo because I am guessing that that will mean a lower CTR rate on paid ads.
But why are you so interested in Google keeping the white on white (very little differentiation between paid and organic)? Either you manage paid search campaigns and your earnings might drop as a result of paid clicks falling or you have a product/service and you advertise via Adwords and are concerned your number of clicks will drop. Which one is it?
|I think I recall Brett posting something years ago on this forum, to the effect that everything in the SERPs is advertising. |
The FTC doesn't care what the owner of a forum chooses to define as "advertising." It cares about paid advertising (whether such advertising is in the form of display ads, sponsored links, advertorial, celebrity endorsements, or some other format).
I gave up on SEO long ago. I have much better control using adwords, and we keep our listing above the fold using automated rules. Our costs go up and down, depending on how many competitors are competing with us, but month over month and year over year, costs and profit margin average out.
I can sleep better knowing that I can't be wiped out by a serp algorithm change.