Have you noticed that ads in your X timeline are getting harder to differentiate from normal posts?
That’s seemingly by design, with X recently changing its ad disclosure indicators from a more prominent “Promoted” tag at the bottom left, to a much smaller “Ad” marker at the top right of the post.
And it’s looking to go even further, with X now also experimenting with an updated ad display format, which makes the main image look much more like a regular visual attachment, with a small, in-image URL marker denoting the ad link, as opposed to the additional lower CTA bar.
As you can see in this example, posted by X Daily News, the updated X ad format makes promotions look even more like regular posts, which could see more people tapping on promotions unwittingly, especially as X works to improve the relevance of the ads displayed in your feed.
Because you’ll likely assume that it’s a link that’s been shared by somebody that you follow, which will make you less likely to scroll over such. Which is a smart move from the X team, though as with the initial change in its ad tags, I don’t think the FTC is going to be as impressed by these updates, given that they obscure ad disclosure in the feed.
Current FTC requirements state that all ads must be “clearly and conspicuously” signaled in-app, though previous terminology referred to “clearly and prominently”, and the FTC now equates the two definitions. There could be some argument that the “Ad” tag is still prominent enough in this respect, but the combined changes, which bring ads more into parity with regular posts, are unlikely to pass the FTC sniff test.
Though X is seemingly moving forward with the change anyway, which could suggest that the FTC has already given the updated format the tick of approval. Or that enforcement action is coming, and given the velocity of change at the app under Elon Musk, I’d hazard a guess that the latter is more likely, with the FTC yet to fully analyze the changes, and assess their viability.
That could mean that this will be a short-lived experiment, but for now, it does seem that X is updating its ad formats to make them appear much more like regular posts.