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Should We Have a Global Standard for Labelling Native Advertising?

Jan 24, 2018

More than 10 percent of publishers don't label their native advertising. That is the conclusion from two recent reports done by Native Advertising Institute in collaboration with FIPP and INMA.

In the news media industry, fewer publishers (11%) are labelling their native ads compared to last year (7%). In the magazine industry, the number is 10% which is only a bit lower than last year (11%).

According to Jesper Laursen, Founder and CEO of Native Advertising Industry, this is a serious problem. But what is the solution? Should we have a global standard for labelling native advertising so it's easy for everyone to label the same way?

We asked four industry experts and here's what they said:

It would be difficult

"I think the biggest challenge for the industry is that there’s no unified way of doing labelling. So every publisher has their own rules. Most are trying their best to disclose it and trying to find a way that makes sense to your audience. To help them understand.

Every publisher, I think, have to make their own judgement call. And as long as you can sleep at night knowing that you’re doing the best job you can to make sure your audience is not deceived, I think everyone is happier.

 I do understand that a unified label would probably be beneficial.

I can understand the appeal of wanting to have a global disclosure for all branded content. And I think readers might be able to better understand it if there was a single way to identify a piece of content that comes from a brand.

RELATED: Small Changes in Disclosures Can Have a Big Impact on Ad Recognition

But the challenge is that every publisher has a different layout and they all have different standards so trying to have a single way of labelling things that is clear in every different context would be very difficult, I think. Even if you look editorially, when you read an article and you are trying to find who wrote it, every single website puts that in a relatively different place or a different font or colour. It totally depends on the publisher.

So while I do understand that a unified label would probably be beneficial, I’d also recognize that it would be incredibly difficult to implement."

- Melanie Deziel, Branded Content Consultant

It’s too messy and inconsistent at the moment.

It should be labelled the same way

"We really have to work on this labelling thing. It’s too messy and inconsistent at the moment. Ultimately that could be dangerous and we can potentially alienate the audience.

Branded content and native advertising should be labelled in the same way. It may not be in the same language but it should be the same. Otherwise, audiences are just going to be confused."

- Pete Fergusson, Owner and CEO of Nemorin Creative Film & Media

There could be advantages to having more of a universal standard.

It could have its advantages

"In terms of labelling, there are guidelines set forth in the United States by the FCC. So we’re very careful to follow those guidelines - our legal team makes sure of this.

RELATED: 5 Experts on How Not to Deceive Your Audience

There could be advantages to having more of a universal standard, considering that content online is not consumed just in one country."

- Annie Granatstein, Head of WP BrandStudio at The Washington Post

It is not possible to recommend a single, one-size fits all disclosure mechanism.

It's not possible

"Because there is a wide variation in native advertising use, it is not possible to recommend a single, one-size fits all disclosure mechanism for disclosure and this is acknowledged by the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) in the US.

It is possible, however, to demand adherence to the core principle that regardless of context, a reasonable consumer should be able to distinguish between what is paid for advertising vs. what is publisher editorial content. Clarity and prominence of the disclosure are paramount and marketers, agencies and publishers need to be familiar with FTC guidance on this topic.

In the end, a clear disclosure is better for the consumer, the brand and the publisher."

- Susan Borst, VP, Mobile, IAB

Do you think we should have a global standard for labelling native advertising? Please comment below to join the discussion.

DOWNLOAD Native Advertising Trends in News Media 2017


Johanne Eliasson is the former editor of the Native Advertising Institute.

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