For publishers and their advertisers, it’s become evident over time that there is a perfect middle-ground that needs to be met when producing online advertisements that are fair, clear, and engaging for consumers.
We know that audiences don’t like to be bombarded or interrupted by advertising. Ad types like pop-ups and auto-play video ads, for example, have never been popular among consumers, and are often considered “annoying” and “disruptive.”
With the rise of native advertising, however, we now know that advertising can actually be too discrete, as well. Google loves native advertising, but audiences don’t want to be duped by native ads into believing an advertisement is anything other than what it actually is.
To regulate this middle-ground, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released Native Advertising: A Guide for Business in December of 2015.
The release of this guide was right on time, too, as the use of native advertising increased dramatically over the course of 2016, according to MediaRadar’s In-Depth Look into the Current State of Native Advertising.
According to the FTC, their job is to, “ensure that long-standing consumer protection principles apply in the digital marketplace, including native advertising.”
In their native advertising guide, the FTC defines what they consider to be deception in advertising:
“Under the FTC Act, an act or practice is deceptive if there is a material misrepresentation or omission of information that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances. A misrepresentation is material if it is likely to affect consumers’ choices or conduct regarding an advertised product or the advertising for the product.”
“A basic truth-in-advertising principle is that it’s deceptive to mislead consumers about the commercial nature of content. Advertisements or promotional messages are deceptive if they convey to consumers expressly or by implication that they’re independent, impartial, or from a source other than the sponsoring advertiser – in other words, that they’re something other than ads.”
To battle ad deception, in their Guide for Business, the FTC runs through the language and layout of how publishers should be disclosing native ads. Within their rundown, there are ten different ways for consumers to identify native advertising.
MediaRadar’s analysis of native advertising in Q3 of 2017 showed that only six of those ten FTC identifiers were consistently being adopted. Below is a list of those six identifiers, with successful native advertising examples for each, so you can have an easier time spotting native ads.
20 Great Examples of Native Advertising and Ways to Spot Them
A. “Ad” or “Advertisement”
There’s no guessing with this one. Many native ads simply contain the word “Advertisement” or “Ad” to let consumers know immediately what they’re looking at.
Something that the FTC states within their Guide is that, “Disclosures must be understood.” Meaning that, aside from the ad itself, the label on the ad cannot be ambiguous whatsoever either.
The good news with the below native advertising example from Walmart is that “Advertisement” is as understandable as it gets. The terminology is formatted in a way that can be read clearly and is even highlighted boldly in yellow. As the FTC Guide says it should be, it is written in, “plain language that is as straightforward as possible.” For more information, check out Walmart’s brand profile page.
1. A Native Advertising Example from Walmart for Fresh Produce
In the Duck Adventure App’s native advertising example, the term, “Ad,” is also highlighted in yellow. It doesn’t interrupt user experience, but it is still clearly visible to them in the top left corner.
2. A Native Advertising Example from the Duck Adventure App on Dog News
B. “Paid Advertisement”
If something is disclosed as “Paid,” that’s always a clear signal of it being an advertisement.
As you can see below, this native ad from Chase includes the disclosure, “Paid Content From Chase.” This disclosure is specific, pointing directly to one of the innovative trends in native advertising and Chase as the one who is paying, thus eliminating any ambiguity surrounding the advertisement and Eater’s content. It’s easily understood that Chase is paying to have that image appear on Eater’s website. Here’s Chase’s brand profile page for your general advertising questions.
3. A Native Advertising Example from Chase for the New Chicago Theatre Lounge
The same goes for this great native advertising example from Dell. The native ad includes the disclosure, “Paid For And Posted By Dell.” Therefore, it’s known that the computer technology company is the one paying for its content to show up on The New York Times website. Here’s Dell’s brand profile page.
4. A native advertising example from Dell on The New York Times
C. “Sponsored Advertising Content”
While perhaps not as on-the-nose as “Advertising” or “Paid Content,” seeing that something is “Sponsored Content” points to the fact that the brand at-hand, in this case, Microsoft, has nothing to do with the creation of the Popular Science content in which the ad sits.
In acknowledging that it is a sponsor, it is acknowledging the fact that it is simply allowed to sit alongside Popular Science‘s content, as someone who has paid to be there, without any inference of contributing otherwise.
Check out Microsoft’s brand profile page right here!
5. A Native Advertising Example from Microsoft on Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture
By saying “Sponsored,” the native advertising example here shows that HootSuite paid to feature its content, which is HootSuite Pro in this scenario, on Facebook.
You can see Facebook’s brand profile page now!
6. A Native Advertising Example from HootSuite on Facebook
In this great native advertising example, Hennessy partnered with the creative agency, Droga5, to produce a video to sell its top-shelf liquor. The video fit seamlessly into the site, but, by using “Sponsor Content,” Hennessy made users aware of the fact that what they were reading and watching was an advertisement, rather than original content.
7. A Native Advertising Example from Hennessy on Vanity Fair
While readers may feel duped at first because this example feels so much like a normal article from The Atlantic, the term, “Sponsor Content,” is all readers really need to recognize that this is, indeed, an ad, according to the FTC.
8. A Native Advertising Example from The Atlantic on Scientology’s Milestones
Though smaller and without color, the word, “Sponsored,” is also included in this native advertising example where Blue Yonder Airlines highlights its favorite layover destinations for the Associated Press. This way, readers understand that what they are looking at is an advertisement.
9. A Native Advertising Example from Blue Yonder Airlines about Family Travel Deals on the Associated Press
If you read this Gawker article, you’ll find out that it is actually a native advertisement by the second paragraph. Not only does the article say “Sponsored” at the top, but the writing also includes a certain call-to-action that urges readers to watch a new reality show entitled King of the Nerds.
10. A Native Advertising Example from Gawker on Becoming a Nerd-Babe
This “Sponsored” native advertising example showed up in some users’ Facebook stream. Yes, Coursera wants readers to learn data analysis in part. But, more importantly, it wants them to sign up for the platform.
11. A Native Advertising Example from Coursera on Learning Data Analysis
D. “Presented by”
Another phrase to look out for is “Presented by.” The native ad below is from Politico, and is “Presented by Siemens.” The ad was hosted on Politico. Content that is “presented by” an advertising brand simply refers to that brand attaching their name to content created by the publisher.
This is the first of the “by” terms. “Presented by,” is synonymous with “promoted by” and “sponsored by” (See below).
12. A Native Advertising Example from Siemens on Politico
This SB Nation native advertising example is “Presented By” Nike. The video aims to follow six NFL stars as they return to their high schools for football summer training.
For more information about this corporation, see Nike’s brand profile page.
13. A Native Advertising Example from Nike on SB Nation
The content below is “Presented By” The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon because the show wishes to attach its name to funny and trending hashtags, especially #HowIGotDumped.
14. A Native Advertising Example from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Trending Hashtags
E. “Promoted by”
The inclusion of the word “by” is a way for native advertisements to be a bit more specific and separate the advertising brand (like Geico) from the publisher (like Buzzfeed).
The FTC states that disclosing an ad as just “Promoted” or as “Promoted Stories” can imply to consumers that the content is endorsed by the publisher site. Hypothetically, if the example ad here were to only say “Promoted,” one might think that Buzzfeed is endorsing content from Geico.
15. A Native Advertising Example from Geico on Buzzfeed
In this case, Twitter Small Biz’s tweet says “Promoted by,” indicating that Twitter doesn’t necessarily have to endorse the content, despite the fact that both Twitter Small Biz and Twitter are divisions of the same company. It’s somewhat confusing, but that’s what “promoted by” means.
Find more advertising data on the social platform through Twitter’s brand profile page.
16. A Native Advertising Example from Twitter Small Biz for Promoting Tweets on Twitter
In a similar fashion, this native advertising example on Twitter, surrounding the best SEM practices, is “Promoted by” Google AdWords. Twitter, the platform in which the content is displayed, isn’t obligated to endorse the post, however.
The search engine has more has more advertising insights on its Google’s brand profile page.
17. A Native Advertising Example from Google AdWords on Twitter
Another native advertising example featured on Buzzfeed (but not endorsed by the publisher) was “Promoted By” Honda. The brand enticed readers with a list of cool vintage items, but more discreetly advertised the roomy nature of its Honda Fit.
Learn even more about this car through Honda’s brand profile page.
18. A Native Advertising Example from Honda Fit on Buzzfeed
Here is our final example of a “Promoted by” native ad. Once again, another brand (Volkswagen) uses the social media platform, Twitter, to drive users to its content hub.
There is more information surrounding the “North American Car of the Year” on Volkswagen’s brand profile page.
19. A Native Advertising Example from Volkswagen Canada on Twitter
F. “Sponsored by”
Content that is “Sponsored by” a brand is another way to identify a native advertisement. And as previously mentioned, this is synonymous with content that is “presented by” and “promoted by.” It’s simply a choice of language.
In this native advertising example below, an article on CIO Mag about adopting artificial intelligence (AI) is “Sponsored by” Intel.
Find more advertising insights on this technology company through Intel’s brand profile page.
20. A Native Advertising Example from Intel on CIO Mag
Even though “Sponsored,” “Presented,” and “Promoted by” all technically mean the same thing, a big point in the FTC’s guide is for publishers to use consistent language across all of their native advertisements. If a publisher uses the phrase “Sponsored by” in one ad spot, they should use the same disclosure elsewhere, as well.