You may have noticed a change in the ads displayed in the X app of late, with the regular ‘Promoted’ signifier disappearing from the bottom of the post, and replaced, instead, by a small ‘Ad’ marker at the top right.
This appears to be an updated ad approach for the newly rebranded app, which could make promoted posts look more natural, and lessen their impact in-stream.
Which probably isn’t a significant shift, though I would question whether this new ad display meets the FTC guidelines on disclosure, and indeed, if it would meet similar specifications in other regions, particularly EU regions.
At present, the current FTC requirements state that all ads must be ‘clearly and conspicuously’ signaled in-app, though previous terminology referred to ‘clearly and prominently’, and the FTC now equates the two definitions. You could argue that the ‘Ad’ tag is clear enough in this respect, and maybe it does meet FTC guidelines, but Google, for example, has come under scrutiny in times past over its promoted links in Search, which haven’t always been as defined for consumers as the FTC would like.
X’s much smaller, and more conspicuous, ‘Ad’ tag could see it get another look from FTC analysts, especially when you also consider the FTC’s ongoing push to get online influencers to more clearly state their brand affiliations on paid partnerships.
In particular, the FTC has said that hashtags that influencers use to signify brand partnerships are often not enough, and don’t clearly communicate the nature of the promotional relationship.
With this in mind, it does seem like X’s shift away from the more prominent ‘Promoted’ tag, which has its own line at the bottom of the post, could come under scrutiny, and it’ll be interesting to see what the ruling might be on this shift.
And as noted, that’s before you consider potential challenges in other regions, and how regulators in those regions might view the change.
At this stage, it looks like X is merely experimenting with the new format, as part of its broader reformation program. But it could lead to an updated ad display, which could improve ad response. Or not.
We’ll keep you updated on any progress.