FTC Rates Children’s Ability to Distinguish Digital Ads from Surrounding Content

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On August 23, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it would continue to seek further public comment on how children are increasingly affected by digital advertising and marketing messages “that can blur the line between advertisements and entertainment”. Marketers are increasingly reaching children through digital media, including integrating advertising into video-sharing platforms, social media platforms through influencer and celebrity posts, games, virtual worlds and other digital environments.

For years, marketers and publishers have used innovative methods to create and deliver digital advertising. One form is commonly referred to as “native advertising”, a term that refers to advertising content that bears similarity to news, feature articles, product reviews, entertainment, and any other material that immediately surrounds the advertising space. digital. The question then becomes: are consumers able to differentiate advertising from other content? And this question is even more acute when it comes to children.

The comment period is extended in conjunction with the “Protecting Children from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” virtual event to be held on October 19, 2022, where the FTC will review and discuss among experts in the field the various techniques used to advertise to children online. Numerous studies have confirmed that children and teens are using screens and social media at an increasing rate, with a recent survey finding that overall screen use among teens and tweens increased by nearly 20% before the pandemic to today, a higher rate than the previous four. years combined. As the forms and means by which digital advertising proliferates in our daily lives, the implications for the reach and effect of such advertising on children are rightly given the attention they deserve.

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