Looks like the Federal Trade Commission’s recently released guidance on native advertising is going to come in handy right now.
BuzzFeed UK got a slap on the wrist today by U.K. regulators for a native ad: a sponsored listicle on, of all things, laundry. The regulator said the listicle, sponsored by Dylon, a provider of color dye for apparel, and a subsidiary of Henkel AG, wasn’t properly labeled as advertising. The post, called “14 Laundry Fails We’ve All Experienced,” was comprised of posts and images drawn from social media platforms that illustrated laundry mistakes. Where a reporter’s byline would appear, the words “Dylon, Brand Publisher” appeared.
According to published reports, the BuzzFeed native post placed the words “Dylon Brand Publisher” at the top of the Web page. At the bottom, the following text appeared: “It’s at times like these we are thankful that Dylon Colour Catcher is there to save us from ourselves. You lose, little red sock!”
The British advertising regulator Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cited improper labeling: “The ASA noted the labels which featured alongside the references to the advertorial on BuzzFeed’s home page and search listings and considered that website visitors who clicked through to the ad from those listings would understand that they were clicking through to advertorial content. However, because consumers could arrive at the advertorial via a range of other means we considered it was necessary for it to be made immediately clear on the web page itself that it featured advertorial content.”
The ASA also said that the ad was a breach of “CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 and 2.4 (Recognition of marketing communications).” It recommended that the ad not appear in its current form and that native ads like this one must be “obviously identifiable as marketing communications.”
For its part, BuzzFeed UK said that since the ASA hadn’t previously ruled on whether a label such as the one in the ad would be sufficient to alert consumers to the fact that it was a marketing communication, it relied on its best practices on labeling native advertising from the U.S.
Ironically, The Native Insider lobbed a request yesterday to speak with an executive in charge of native advertising at BuzzFeed for his or her reactions to the recent FTC guidance. We're still waiting on a response.
This development comes as other U.S. publishers are still sorting out their views on the FTC's guidance, issued in December -- and as publishers accelerate on native and branded content. Some publishers say native accounts for nearly one-third of their revenues. Stay tuned.