Native advertising can be defined as:

“Online content that it is created for paid promotion of a brand on a media site which doesn’t use a traditional ad format such as a banner ad, but includes editorial content such as a blog post or infographic”

Social media updates by celebrities can also be considered Native advertising as the examples below show.

Native advertising content should be disclosed as advertising by law in many countries, but often it isn’t and new laws are being enacted – so it’s worth checking the law in your country.

Guidance covers these cases:

  • Unsolicited e-mail marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as marketing communications without the need to open them.
  • Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer (i.e. marketers should not leave reviews about their companies or competitors on behalf of their business).
  • Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them “advertisement feature”. This guidance is necessary since the the increase in Native Advertising has meant that many pieces of content masquerading as ads haven’t been disclosed.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has defined “native advertising” as “blending advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media” , i.e. it is synonymous with “sponsored content.”

Examples of Native advertising that have broken advertising laws

  • Examples of Native advertising that have broken advertising guidelines
  • In 2012 England footballer Wayne Rooney used his Twitter feed to mention his sponsor Nike, by passing off a promotional message as a personal comment without clearly showing it was an advertisement.
  • In 2013, The Atlantic, the 157-year-old magazine, carried a story about the Church of Scientology on its website celebrating the church’s past year of worldwide expansion
  • In 2014, Buzz feed featured an infographic 10 Quotes Every Grad Needs to Read’ sponsored by Harper Collins
  • In 2014 British “vloggers” or “YouTubers” British YouTubers, including Phil Lester and Dan Howell were censured after featuring an Oreo promotion ‘Oreo Lick Race’.