A new Apple technical document shows that sponsored “native” ads which look like news stories are coming soon to your News app feed. The new ads “display directly in the content feeds, inline with News articles.” They’ll feature the same title, text excerpt and small image fields, with the only thing setting them apart from news content being the “Sponsored” tag at the bottom of the story. Apple says the new ads “are intended to blend in with their surroundings” and will be set to display in the same font used for news stories. The sponsor can include its name in the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad or opt out, leaving only the word “Sponsored” in the space below.
Business Insider reports that publishers can currently upload sponsored content to the News app, but they must flag those stories as native content in metadata or risk having their access suspended. Publishers are on the hook to clearly label and title those pieces of content, and as a result, there’s been very little sponsored content on the app to date. The new rules could be a reaction to the new FTC guidance passed in December that forces advertisers to clearly mark their sponsored content, because although the policy is targeted at advertisers, it covers “everyone who participates directly or indirectly in creating or presenting native ads,” which includes Apple. The new ad format gives publishers a more straightforward way to sell and promote their sponsored posts, but it’s possible Apple’s deal to keep 30 percent of the revenue generated through its iAd platform could still steer companies away from using the format. Apple’s relationship with publishers has been dicey since the News app’s launch, over problems in reporting reader numbers and the app’s inability to charge users for subscriber-only content.