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Native Advertising (a.k.a. Sponsored Content) Gets Noticed… This Article is Sponsored by Bereskin & Parr

November 21, 2013

By Catherine Lovrics and Jennifer McKenzie 

The US Federal Trade Commission is taking aim at native advertising and sponsored content. On December 4th, the FTC will be hosting a workshop to examine the blurring of digital ads with digital content. In advance of the workshop, the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) updated its Guidelines for Editors and Publishers by adding a new section to address native advertising. The new section states that native advertising should be prominently labeled as advertising, and the source of the sponsor and affiliation of the author should be clearly acknowledged. The term “Sponsor Content” can be used to label native advertising. There should be a prominent statement or scroll over notice explaining that the sponsor paid for publication of the content. The content should be distinguishable from editorial content, and for example, not use similar fonts and graphics, and be visually separated from editorial content. Certain types of native advertising used to be referred to as an "advertorial". However, ASME's Guidelines, and the industry, generally discourage use of that term.

It remains to be seen how native advertising will be addressed in Canada. The issue has been on Magazines Canada’s radar for about a year, and is being considered by a committee. With all the stakeholders in the magazine industry and divergent views on the issue, building consensus can be a challenge. However, if the past is an indicator, new guidelines can be expected, which may or may not take cues from ASME. Magazines Canada’s Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement (Code) currently addresses sponsorship, and provides some guidance. The Code prohibits use of an advertiser’s name and logo to suggest advertising of any regularly appearing editorial, and terms such as “sponsored” or “brought to you by” are prohibited. One-off editorial extras may be sponsored, for example, special features, sections, inserts and onserts, provided the editorial does not mention or endorse the advertiser, and the advertiser does not have input in the creation of the editorial.

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