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Summary:

Is the current fad of native advertising confusing consumers? A gaggle of experts from the government and tech and media industry will discuss the issue on December 4.

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday announced the line-up for a workshop that will explore so-called “native advertising,” amid concerns the marketing trend is confusing consumers and blurring the lines between editorial and ad content.

The attendees include august old-world media figures like NPR’s Bob Garfield and the former dean of Columbia Journalism School, Nick Lemann, alongside executives from the ad-tech companies like Outbrain and Sharethrough that help online publishers insert “native ads” into news stories.

You can read more details here, but the December 4th event is essentially a discussion on what publishers and ad companies must do to ensure that people can identify advertisements.

The issue is a hot one because publishers are treating native ads online (the practice has been around for eons in the form of newspaper “advertorials”) as an important source of new revenue, and marketers are rushing to label ad options as “native.” At the same time, however, the Atlantic’s infamous Scientology incident has led some to decry the practice has gone too far.

The current native advertising frenzy was popularized by BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti, and has since been adopted by nearly every other publisher, including one-time holdout New York Times.

Earlier this year, the FTC also issued updated guidelines for bloggers and “small screen” media like Twitter to ensure consumers are able to identify sponsored content.

The event will also feature lawyers and executives from the Huffington Post, ad agency Edelman, Procter & Gamble, and BuzzFeed among others.

  1. Anthony Armiston Monday, November 18, 2013

    I hope the FTC stays out of the way (for publishers) and accepts the fact that native ads are practically self-policing. Twitter, Airpush, The Atlantic, AP and other top names in social, advertising, and media are early experts in this game and they know that engaging content clearly designated as advertising or sponsored content is critically important. Consumers have a build-in radar for BS. They don’t want to advertisers or publishers to try to fool them. That sort of thing will only backfire long term. And that’s the biggest safeguard there is against deceptive usage of native ads.

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