Have you noticed all the ads in your X timeline are getting harder to differentiate from regular posts?
It is all design, with X recently changing its ad disclosure indicators from a more prominent “Promoted” tag at the bottom left to a much smaller “Ad” marker at the top right of the post.
It looks to go even further, with X experimenting with an updated ad display format. It makes the main image looks much more like a regular visual attachment.
It can do so with the help of a minor, in-image URL marker denoting the ad link, as opposed to the additional lower CTA bar.
As posted by X Daily News, the updated X ad format makes promotions look even more like regular posts. You could see more people tapping on promotions unwittingly, primarily when X works to improve the ads’ relevance in your feed.
Because you likely assume that it is a link shared by somebody you follow. It will make you less likely to scroll over such ads.
It is a smart move from the X team. Although, as with the initial change in its ad tags, only some can think that the FTC will be as impressed by these updates, given that they are nothing but obscure ad disclosure in the feed.
All the current FTC requirements state that all the ads must be “clear and conspicuous,” signalled in the app though previous terminology referred to “clear and prominent.” Now the FTC is equating the two definitions.
There could be some argument that the “Ad” tag is still prominent enough in this respect. But due to all the combined changes, it brings ads more into parity with regular posts. Hence, they are unlikely to pass the FTC sniff test.
Though X is seemingly moving forward with the change anyway, it suggests that the FTC has already given the updated format the tick of approval.
Enforcement action is also likely coming, given the velocity of change in the app under Elon Musk. It is hard to guess that the latter is more likely, with the FTC yet to comprehensively analyze the differences and assess their practicality.
It may be a short-lived experiment, but for now, X is updating its ad formats to make them appear more like regular posts.
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