In the United States, an organization has just issued a warning to brands that advertise in metaverses 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 on ads from the metaverse,” said Mamie Kresses, vice president of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).
Hidden ads in games
CARU also specifies that its guidelines prohibit advertisers from hiding advertising and non-advertising content directed at children using the metaverse.
“The concealment of advertising and non-advertising content directed at children is not something new. However, the sophisticated techniques used by brands to hide these ads in the metaverse are a concern for CARU. Today, advertisements can easily be 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 should be easily identifiable. Thus, it calls on advertisers to demonstrate transparency within these virtual environments. This, “taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of children in order to avoid any misleading, misleading 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, positioning, and other visual or contextual cues, such as borders or background shades of advertisements.”
CARU also called on advertisers to avoid “trick interfaces,” that is, interfaces specifically designed to trick children into viewing advertisements or agreeing to purchase products.
“As brands create more and more sponsored worlds in the metaverse, it is imperative that these spaces, often designed as publicity games, clearly reveal to children, in understandable language, that this is a advertising. Additionally, many metaverses, whether brand-sponsored or independently operated, feature advertisements that integrate with the game’s theme and content and that children may not always be able to identify”.
New rules for advertising aimed at children
CARU has no judiciary, but seeks the voluntary cooperation of brands. It can, however, 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 advertisements in educational content, interactive games or entertainment. According to CARU, they must make their advertisements 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
Concealing advertising in a child-directed metaverse is a form of manipulation. Putting social or emotional pressure on children is against CARU 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 the level of language skills of children.
As the metaverse gains traction, it’s time to put the necessary measures in place to protect children.
All information on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action taken by the reader based on information found on our website is entirely at their own risk.