Consumers are increasingly savvy and less interested than ever in watching advertisements. As a result, some brands have started investing in "native advertising," or paid content on social media that is designed to look like another article, informational guide, or piece of news in order to encourage viewers to click on it and watch.
Unfortunately, if you take native advertising too far, your company can wind up in legal trouble. Here's what you should know.
How can native advertising break the law?
A lot of native ads can be entertaining or informative—so they're successful. However, consumers have a legal right not to be fooled into looking at something that they don't realize is trying to sell them something, so that they can judge the value of the information they read for themselves. Anything else is considered deceptive advertising—and that's illegal.
For example, a popular fashion blogger posted a photo of herself wearing a chic new outfit from Lord & Taylor. Her followers immediately started buying up the outfit—not realizing that Lord & Taylor had actually paid the blogger to put on the outfit and post the photo. It was not an outfit she'd chosen herself.
The Federal Trade Commission is starting to crack down on native advertising that doesn't give adequate notice of its true nature. In that case and others, the FTC has filed complaints, and businesses have found themselves dealing with the legal fallout of their decisions in ways that end up hurting them financially.
How can you avoid problems when you use native advertising?
It isn't necessary to avoid native advertising altogether—and you probably don't really want to do so. You just have to make certain that you take care to follow the law when you do it.
Disclose the fact that content is commercial in nature. You can do that simply by incorporating certain specific phrases in your ad, such as the following:
- Ad or Advertisement
- Paid Advertisement
- Sponsored By
- Sponsored Content
- Presented By
- Promoted By
- Promotional Material
Make certain that your company's name or logo is also prominent on the ad where consumers can see it without much effort.
In addition, it's absolutely essential that if you partner with online influencers, like bloggers and YouTube stars, that paid content is disclosed. A blogger can still test out your product and give it a glowing review, for example, as long as he or she mentions that you paid for the trial.
No business needs the hassle of running afoul of deceptive advertising laws. If you're uncertain about what you need to do to avoid business litigation, talk to a business attorney like Richard L Wise, Counselor at Law, today for guidance.