The purpose of this study is to investigate the display of sponsorship disclosures in native advertisements. Based on the native ad guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, we assessed the clarity and prominence of sponsorship disclosures used by major media outlets. Eighty-three native ads posted in high-traffic media Web sites were analyzed. Results revealed problems mostly related to clarity of disclosures. In labeling, various terms were used, including the media's own neologisms, which appear to be very ambiguous. In particular, when republished via social media, the identification of sponsors and the provision of disclosures were more problematic. Results point to the need for more proper and specific guidelines, and active self-regulation by the industry.
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Copyright 2018 by The American Council on Consumer Interests