So seriously in fact that there will be a workshop on the subject in December. The post about the workshop says
Increasingly, advertisements that more closely resemble the content in which they are embedded are replacing banner advertisements – graphical images that typically are rectangular in shape – on publishers’ websites and mobile applications. The workshop will bring together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and government regulators to explore changes in how paid messages are presented to consumers and consumers’ recognition and understanding of these messages.
Uh oh! The FTC thinks there might be something rotten in the state of Denmark, so to speak.
Before marketers panic it might be a good idea to examine your own techniques and decide if you are coloring inside the lines or not.
Marketers should simply live by the following ‘code’: If it looks too much like content and not enough like an ad, the FTC might come knocking.
Some areas to be covered include
What is the origin and purpose of the wall between regular content and advertising, and what challenges do publishers face in maintaining that wall in digital media, including in the mobile environment?
In what ways are paid messages integrated into, or presented as, regular content and in what contexts does this integration occur? How does it differ when paid messages are displayed within mobile apps and on smart phones and other mobile devices?
What business models support and facilitate the monetization and display of native or integrated advertisements? What entities control how these advertisements are presented to consumers?
How can ads effectively be differentiated from regular content, such as through the use of labels and visual cues? How can methods used to differentiate content as advertising be retained when paid messages are aggregated (for example, in search results) or re-transmitted through social media?
What does research show about how consumers notice and understand paid messages that are integrated into, or presented as, news, entertainment, or regular content? What does research show about whether the ways that consumers seek out, receive, and view content online influences their capacity to notice and understand these messages as paid content?
Does this make you worry? Should we anticipate findings that could change the way we do advertising?
What’s your take?