The workshop, called “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content,” focused on whether publishers and advertisers are doing enough to keep consumers from mistaking native ads — which are meant to closely resemble non-sponsored content — from the content itself.
”As consumers, we started seeing, when we went online, things we that weren’t sure what they were,” said Mary Engle, the FTC’s associate director for advertising practices, in reference to native ads’ resemblance to editorial content. Concerns about deception, she said, sparked the FTC’s interest.
Trying to make money
Fearful the federal government would meddle with the hottest new form of advertising, leaders from across the spectrum came together in its defense. Executives from Procter & Gamble, Hearst, Mashable,The Huffington Post, Outbrain, Sharethrough and more participated in the standing-room only workshop that ran all day. Over the course of it, every imaginable defense of the medium surfaced, from the standard “native advertising is transparent enough” argument to a claim that consumers want more native ads.