The FCC may now have control over the foundation of the net thanks to their legislative takeover under the flag of ‘Net Neutrality’, but the FTC may soon be swooping in for the final kill — regulating the entire world of internet web ads by which the entire online commerce system heavily relies on.
And, better yet, these regulations are being written up by the largest advertising corporations in the industry. In the event that these regulations are passed, we will be seeing the ‘Obamacare’ of the net. Regulations written to ‘protect you’ by none other than the corporations that will benefit the most. All with the help of the FTC bureaucrats.
In a move that has been expected for quite some time, the FCC is already working with ‘major advertising reps’ and other industry heads in order to create new ‘consumer protection’ laws aimed at punishing websites and ad agencies for running ads that could be ‘confusing’ to customers. Sounds pretty fair, huh? Government colluding with the largest corporations in advertising to punish all other advertisers for their potentially ‘confusing’ ad banners.
But what does ‘confusing’ really mean? To boil it down, the ads under fire are called ‘native ads’ by the industry. These are ads that could be mixed with news (such as sponsored content, which sites often rely heavily on to keep running), or ads that ‘could be confused with content’.
Basically, it could apply to any ad that is well developed and uses even the most basic marketing standards. Unless you’re the advertising agency writing the rules, of course. And as we read from the FTC website, these leaders are already coming together to determine what ‘advertising’ means in the eyes of the government:
“The Federal Trade Commission hosted a one-day workshop to examine the blending of advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The workshop brought together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and self-regulatory groups to explore the ways in which sponsored content is presented to consumers online and in mobile apps; consumers’ recognition and understanding of it; the contexts in which it should be identifiable as advertising; and effective ways of differentiating it from editorial content.”
Once again, you simply cannot be trusted to make your own decisions. The web could be ‘confusing’ to you. That’s why the FTC is stepping in to help you.
“It used to be pretty clear,” said Lesley Fair, a senior attorney with the agency’s bureau of consumer protection. “The entertainment portion of a show ended and the commercials began. The two column article ran on one side of the newspaper and the ad on the other. Or the Web page had the content in the middle with a banner ad running across the top. Things are more complicated now.”
Websites have been transitioning away from the ‘single web banner somewhere on the page’ advertising model for years. Quite frankly, most consumers will never click web ads that are ‘cut and dry’ these days — a reality that most websites have accepted. From alternative news to the amazing apps and entertainment websites you enjoy, all of these websites run on creative ad space.
But let’s be clear. If the FTC swoops in on regulating web ads across the web, the casualties will be much greater than the collapse of your favorite time killing website. Commerce at its most basic level online relies on marketing and advertising that could be thrown under the label of ‘confusing’ as long as the overpaid FTC ‘agent’ determines it to be. What this ‘Obamacare of the net’ will truly amount to is a selective weapon of the establishment’s FTC.
Yet another control over our once-free internet.