Advertising in the metaverse: an American association sounds the alarm

In the US, an organization has just issued a warning to brands that advertise in the metaverse frequented by children.

“Our disclaimer reminds advertisers, brands, influencers, brand representatives, developers and others that CARU’s advertising guidelines apply to advertising on the metaverse, and that CARU will strictly enforce its guidelines for ads from the metaverse,” said Mamie Kresses, Vice President of Kids’ Children’s Division . Advertising Review Unit (CARU).

Hidden ads in games

CARU also clarifies that its guidelines prohibit advertisers from hiding advertising and non-advertising content aimed at children using the metaverse.

“The concealment of advertising and non-advertising content aimed at children is nothing new. However, the sophisticated techniques used by brands to hide these ads in the metaverse are a concern for CARU. Today, advertising can be easily integrated into interactive games , entertainment and educational content. These can be combined with a mix of influencer marketing and user-generated content in increasingly connected spaces.”

The organization also emphasizes that advertisements must be easily identifiable. It thus encourages advertisers to demonstrate transparency in these virtual environments. This “taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of children to avoid any misleading, deceptive or inappropriate advertising”.

Advertising in the Metaverse: Advertiser Techniques

According to CARU, brands can use several techniques to help children recognize advertising content. For example, the use of “text size and color, placement and other visual or contextual cues, such as borders or background shades of advertisements.”

CARU also urged advertisers to avoid “trick interfaces”, that is, interfaces specifically designed to trick children into viewing advertisements or agreeing to buy products.

“As brands create more and more sponsored worlds in the metaverse, it is imperative that these spaces, often designed as advergames, clearly disclose to children, in understandable language, that this is an advertisement. In addition, many metaverses contain, whether brand-sponsored or independently operated, ads that integrate with the theme and content of the game and that children may not always be able to identify”.

New rules for advertising aimed at children

CARU has no judiciary, but seeks voluntary cooperation between brands. However, it may report violations to a federal regulatory agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Here are the things brands should look out for before advertising in the metaverse, according to Ms. Kresses:

  • Do not hide advertising and non-advertising content

In the metaverse, brands can hide their ads in educational content, interactive games or entertainment. According to CARU, they must make their ads easily identifiable.

  • Don’t hide Influencer Marketing

Within the metaverse, influencers use avatars to interact with children to promote brands. Children need to know that there is a material relationship between the influencer and the advertiser.

  • Do not use manipulative techniques

Hiding advertisements in a child-oriented metaverse is a form of manipulation. Placing social or emotional pressure on children is against CARU’s guidelines.

  • Mandatory information must be clearly visible

Brands are prohibited from using manipulation, concealment or other deceptive advertising practices. Advertisements must be clear and adapted to children’s language proficiency level.

As the metaverse gains traction, it’s time to take the necessary measures to protect children.

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