In recent times, keen-eyed users of the X app might have noticed a subtle change in the way ads are displayed. The familiar ‘Promoted’ label, usually found at the bottom of sponsored posts, has been replaced by a small ‘Ad’ marker positioned at the top right. 

This fresh approach comes as part of the app’s rebranding efforts, aiming to present promoted content in a more natural way and reduce its disruption to the user experience. While this update seems relatively innocuous, there are important questions about ad disclosure that need to be addressed. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) currently requires all ads to be “clearly and conspicuously” labeled within the app. Previously, the terminology used was “clearly and prominently,” and the FTC now equates the two phrases. One might argue that the new ‘Ad’ tag satisfies these guidelines, but it’s worth noting that even major companies like Google have faced FTC scrutiny over their promoted links in Search, which haven’t always met consumers’ disclosure expectations. 

The X app’s adoption of a smaller and more noticeable ‘Ad’ tag may attract the attention of FTC analysts, especially given the ongoing efforts to ensure online influencers transparently disclose brand affiliations on paid partnerships. The FTC has expressed concerns about influencers using hashtags to signify brand partnerships, as they may not fully communicate the promotional nature of the content. 

Considering these factors, the shift away from the prominent ‘Promoted’ tag with its separate line at the bottom of the post could potentially face scrutiny. It remains to be seen what the FTC’s ruling might be on this change, and whether X’s new approach aligns with the disclosure standards in other regions, especially in the European Union. 

It is important to clarify that X is currently treating this new format as an experiment, part of its broader reformation program. The company aims to improve ad response and the overall user experience through these changes. As the situation unfolds, we will keep you updated on any progress and the potential implications for advertisers, influencers, and users alike. 

X’s new ad display signals an interesting experiment in balancing ad transparency and user satisfaction. While it may enhance the native feel of promoted content, it also raises concerns about adherence to FTC guidelines and how regulators in different regions will respond. As the digital landscape evolves, it becomes increasingly vital for platforms like X to strike the right balance between advertising and user trust.

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