x, twitter, x corp, elon musk, ftc, eu, regulation, compliance, paid for ads, marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing

X updates its ad display, perhaps skirting regulations?

Twitter, or X, as it’s now called, appears to be experimenting with its display settings for advertisements. Lately, users are going onto the app and seeing a less distinct version of ads in their feed. For example, bold banners and the typical “Promoted” signifier are taken from the display and the most obvious way to be sure you are looking at a paid-for advertisement is the word “Ad” in the top corner.

It makes for much more seamless addition of ads into the X feed, which is good for X, might be good for marketers, but is definitely bad for compliance. Governing bodies like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the EU (European Union) have made a point of ensuring that advertisements on social media platforms are properly presented to be clear that they are marketing.

In fact, the FTC has recently reworked its marketing guidelines to make even affiliate and influencer marketing more explicit on social media. Regulations are only tightening, not loosening.

However, with Elon Musk going viral for taking down Twitter HQ’s Twitter sign without permission from the city and thus being interrupted by San Francisco police, quickly followed by again going viral for erecting a massive flashing X on its roof across the road from resident buildings, it’s easy to see a pattern of not respecting governing bodies.

In the meantime, is this good or bad for marketers? A taming of ad displays might offer a small boost in the short term, but governing bodies aren’t likely to take it for long and will come down either on X Corp or the brands advertising with them. Compliance is an important part of marketing and avoiding regulations is likely to result in fines.

However, Musk’s team could simply be experimenting at this point, and it’s likely that once someone explains to them that removing these features will result in fines that they can’t afford, the original formatting will be brought back.

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