Outbrain, a content recommendation platform whose eponymous content marketing module offers to help Internet publishers increase traffic to their websites, is dealing with some incoming attacks.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upbraided the company for what it considers improper disclosures that its “You May Also Like” and “Recommended for You” (among assorted headlines) posts are paid ads.
The advertising watchdog ruled that these links do not properly disclose that the article suggestions are actually paid ads. The ASA issued the ruling after examining Outbrain material that appeared on the Web site of the much-read UK newspaper, The Independent.
While the ASA has no authority to actually ban the ads or levy fines, it’s a black mark for any company to be called out by the organization.
In response, Outbrain will alter its headlines to read “Promoted,” “Sponsored,” or “Promoted Stories.”
In a blog post, Outbrain co-founder and CEO, Yaron Galai, said other changes include underlining “Recommended by” to signal it’s a link and changing the Outbrain logo to the full logo in words and not the Outbrain icon. Galai indicated that it will take time to change wording and appearance across all the publishers with whom the company has contracts.
It’s another glitch in the race to use native advertising techniques to increase traffic. Industry experts say the lack of widely accepted standards is one of the current problems. Outbrain execs, for instance, said it has been working with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the UK and the European Union and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the IAB in the US for over a year on industry standards.