“Around the Web”? How about “Around the Water Cooler”?
That’s where industry folks are jawing about the recent upbraiding delivered by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to Outbrain.
While everyone has seen those “Around The Web” and “You May Also Like” content recommendation lists at the bottom of articles on such illustrious publisher sites as CNN, Slate, and NBCNews.com, the advertising watchdog has ruled that these lists “do not properly disclose that the article suggestions are actually paid ads.”
The ASA, which has no authority to actually ban or fine marketers, issued a ruling that found Outbrain’s labeling of the native ad-style content recommendations was not adequate after looking at an example from popular UK-based publisher The Independent.
ASA staffers said the heading didn’t make it clear enough to consumers that the “recommendations” were sponsored by a paying customer. They also said the link to a “Why these ads” from the Outbrain logo at the bottom wasn’t clickable.
In response to the spanking, Outbrain plans to change its headlines to say “Promoted,” “Sponsored,” or “Promoted Stories.”
In a blog post, Outbrain co-founder and CEO Yaron Galai, said other changes will include underlining “Recommended by” to signal it’s a link and changing the Outbrain logo to the full logo in words and not the Outbrain icon. The company said it will take a bit of time to change the language and appearance across all publishers.
The issues are worth defining. The Online Publisher’s Association has determined that 90 percent of U.S. publishers already offer or plan to offer native advertising opportunities in 2014. A BIA/Kelsey study predicts brands will spend $4.57 billion on social native ads by 2017.