The Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) has released new guidelines for native ad formats as the industry body continues efforts to improve transparency within digital marketing.

According to the IAB’s digital ad spend report, paid native advertising – including sponsorships, ad features and in-feed distribution – hit £563 million in the first half of 2017, accounting for 28% of display ad spend.

First introduced in 2014 before a second phase which focused on content-based advertising in 2015, the latest guidelines include providing visual cues, or verbal brand mentions in audio formats, so users are aware that they’re engaging with advertising content.

Other guidelines include cleaning up front label and verbal descriptors to show a commercial arrangement, designing disclosures that are clear and prominent in different formats and ensuring advertising adheres to legislation such as the CAP Code.

“It’s essential when brands are using content and native advertising to reach their audiences that they understand the rules about disclosure, and how to comply with them in practice,” said Christie Dennehy-Neil, senior public policy manager at the IAB UK.  

The guidelines are being set for advertisers, publishers and marketers to help consumers identify with visual-based ads, particularly in photo and video-based platforms, especially as increased mobile usage and the rise of influencer marketing continues to impact the industry.

“Transparency is vital, not just because it’s required by the advertising rules, but because it is key to audience trust, which is so important for brands and anyone they partner with to create or publish advertising content.” added Dennehy-Neil.