The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently hosted a workshop on digital native advertising as part its effort to ensure that “consumers can identify advertisements as advertising wherever they appear.” Titled “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?,” the workshop examined “the practice of blending advertisements with news, entertainment, and other content in digital media,” bringing together publishers, marketers, consumer advocates, academics, and self-regulatory organizations to discuss: (i) “the ways in which sponsored content is presented to consumers online and in mobile apps”; (ii) “consumers’ recognition and understanding of it”; (iii) “the contexts in which it should be identifiable as advertising”; and (iv) “effective ways of differentiating it from editorial content.”
Building on recent updates to FTC’s guidance on search engine advertising, dot com disclosures, and endorsements and testimonials, the workshop is reportedly the latest step in the commission’s efforts to ensure that digital advertisers conform to rules intended to help consumers distinguish between marketing and editorial content. See FTC News Release, December 3, 2013; The New York Times and Adweek, December 4, 2013.