American Society of Magazine Editors

MPA Statement on FTC Policy on Native Advertising

After a two-year review, the Federal Trade Commission on December 22 issued two documents on native advertising, “Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements” and “Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses.”

MPA and ASME were involved with the FTC throughout its review. Sid Holt, chief executive of ASME, participated in the initial FTC workshop two years ago. Since then, MPA and ASME board members met with FTC commissioners and staff members and discussed with them magazine media native advertising practices and the recently revised ASME guidelines on native advertising.

The new FTC guidance reflects a similar focus on transparency in native advertising as the ASME guidelines.  The FTC guidance is, however, far more granular than the ASME guidelines--which were designed for a variety of editorial models—and editors and publishers are encouraged to review the policy statement and examples offered by the FTC in  “Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses” to ensure workable solutions for specific native advertising practices.

MPA and ASME will continue to review the guidance to identify specific native advertising concerns relevant to magazine media. One aspect of the new policy that may require special attention are references to transparency in native advertising as it is distributed in social media and appears in content streams.  

Although the new policy statement largely restates for digital media what has been FTC policy for print and electronic media since the 1960s, the publication of the new policy does indicate that the FTC will be paying careful attention to native advertising in the future. MPA will work closely with its members to review the guidance and implications for ongoing or emerging content-marketing initiatives.