A Critical Analysis of Attempts to Regulate Native Advertising and Influencer Marketing
This research critically examines how regulatory bodies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States are responding to native advertising and influencer marketing, two practices that blur the line between digital media content and advertising. Through an examination of regulatory guidelines, documents, and cases from 2010 to 2020, we demonstrate how regulators adhere to a “narrow” regulatory paradigm that the advertising industry itself helped to establish in the early 1900s. Under this paradigm, the only potential problem caused by advertising is an individual consumer misled into purchasing something they would not otherwise. As such, for native advertising and influencer marketing, regulators recommend clear disclosure as the solution. Our synthesis of critical academic literature, however, reveals the wider social and cultural consequences of native advertising and influencer marketing, including the reputation of journalism and further erosion of the public sphere by commercialism, among other issues.