In two decisions issued last week, major native advertising players Gravity and Outbrain were found to have failed to comply with the online advertising industry’s self-regulatory principles for interest-based ads. The decisions, issued by the Better Business Bureau’s Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (OIBAAP), are the first to address whether native advertising targeted toward consumers’ interests must comply with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (the “Principles”). These decisions follow the OIBAAP’s Interest-Based Native Advertising Compliance Warning sent to advertisers last year.
Gravity and Outbrain both provide to online publishers what the IAB has dubbed “recommendation widgets,” which are a type of native advertising container that suggests third-party articles and other sponsored content tailored to a user’s specific interests. These recommendation widgets are typically placed adjacent to sites’ normal editorial content, but are boxed off and labeled with “Around the Web,” “You Might Also Like,” or similar.