Ofcom Issues Native Ad Warning

Spot the ad - with native ads, it can be tricky
Spot the ad – with native ads, it can be tricky

Ofcom CEO Ed Richards has sounded a note of caution over the rapid growth of native advertising.

Speaking at today’s ISBA advertising conference in London, Richards touched on a number of “usual suspect” areas, including advertisements for payday loans and alcohol, particularly the exposure of children to alcohol advertising.

But on native advertising, he noted its rapid growth, and said: “Native advertising poses a potential challenge to ensure readers are not misled”.

That was as far as he went, but the statement should be seen as a note of intent on the regulator’s behalf that native advertising will not escape its attention if it becomes so native that consumers don’t realise that what they are clicking on is, in fact, an ad.

Richards was followed onto the stage by Richard Eyre, chairman of the IAB, who criticised those companies who have still not optimised their websites for viewing on mobile devices.

He told delegates: “It is time to stop annoying the very people who care enough come to your site on a mobile device and then have to scroll backwards and forward to read your big desk page.” He also reminded delegates that that there are now three times as many mobile as fixed-line phone connections, adding, “the same thing will happen with the internet; mobile will overtake fixed line connectivity.”