FTC Worries About Online 'Sponsored Content'

Us silly Americans are just too stupid to recognize advertising on our own!


Advertising that portrays itself as independent, unbiased reporting is drawing increased scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission, officials said on Wednesday, warning of a more vigilant campaign against a deceptive practice that dates back a century but has grown more aggressive on the Internet.

Digital advertising, which has the ability to target specific audiences and individuals, has led to a boom in the popularity of what is known online as native advertising, paid links or sponsored content. Those features have previously gone by such names as advertorials or infomercials.

But that growth has led to concern among consumer protection officials, at the F.T.C. and elsewhere, that the commerce-driven content can mislead consumers, at times even when the information is labeled advertising.