The IAB has recently announced the first in a wave of content and native disclosure guidance which aims to provide practical steps and help brand owners, publishers and marketing practitioners provide transparency to consumers engaging with content and native advertising. As an ad format, native advertising is changing rapidly and as such the guidance will evolve in line with industry changes.
Phase one of the IAB’s report sets out industry guidance on native distribution formats in compliance with the Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) and the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations (CPR).
What does the consumer think?
The guidance reflects the law in place but also takes into account consumer expectations.
In late 2014 the IAB commissioned a research agency to investigate consumer comprehension of content forms of marketing and native distribution formats, ensuring that online advertising is and continues to be transparent and clear to consumers who are viewing it.
The research highlighted three clear points which consumers take into consideration when deciding what native distribution formats to engage with:
- Is the content displayed relevant to them
- Did they gain value from the advertisement as they would with other editorial content
- Can they trust the publisher associated with the marketing content.
This research clearly highlights the importance of the Native disclosure guidance. Brands or publishers displaying native advertising formats need to ensure that this is clearly communicated to the consumer, particularly when the research highlighted that peoples trust in a brand or publisher can diminish if the origin or the content is unclear in anyway
Three step guidance
In line with comprehensive consumer research the IAB have set out a 3 step guidance of how brand owners, marketing practitioners and publishers should work with native distribution formats going forward:
- Make it clear to consumers that they are engaging with marketing in a native ad format
- Publishers and providers of native ad formats must use visible tables that demonstrate a commercial agreement is in place
- All advertisements need to adhere to CRP’s and CAP Code
But what does this look like in practice?
An example of good native advertising in practice can be seen, below, between the New York Times and Netflix, in which Netflix have tied up their new season of ‘orange is new black’ to a NY Times article about the rise in women inmates.The most important factor here is that it adheres to the rules. It clearly states ‘paid post’ at the top of the web page, making it clear to any readers that it is an ad before they have even seen it. The advertiser’s logo is also clear, and as such the reader is aware of the purpose before reading the content.
In an industry where native advertising already accounts for more than a fifth of digital display ads, this regulation welcomes the industry to clear up any uncertainty and avoid consumer mistrust. To ensure the consumer doesn’t feel like they are being misled into buying something because of a financial reward, content sites need to ensure they are clearly telling customers when content is paid for. Whilst content needs to be engaging, it also needs to be impartial and unbiased and by following the IAB’s new three step guidelines, publishers can ensure they are engaging with consumers in the correct way.
The full report can be downloaded from the IAB site by clicking here.
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