With 82% of Top News Sites Using These Ads, Are Come-Ons FTC-Compliant?

ChangeAdvertising, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, conducted a study from August 14-18th that examined the top 50 news sites (list of sites based on this article from 2015 by the New York Times). Note: the only deviation from this list is that Forbes.com was added in place of NPR.org.

It found, amongst other things, that:

  • 41 of 50 (82%) sites employed “content ads”
  • Of those, sites, 16 used Outbrain (39%), 23 used Taboola (56%), and 1 each used Revcontent and Adblade
  • We counted 370 advertisements across the 41 sites, an average of 9 per site
  • Salon.com had the most on a single page, with 22 split across the right, middle and bottom of the page, including 5 text-only links
  • MSN.com sported 21 links, although 9 of them pointed to other articles/store pages on msn.com, and the two forms of ads were not differently marked, which could be confusing to the user
  • A wide variety of labels are employed to describe these blocks of ads, which may confuse the user as to their purpose, and it might fall afoul of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Native Ad Guidelines –


Our goal is to help inform consumers about what it is they are seeing, so they can make better decisions about what brands, advertisers and publishers they should be engaging with.

An example:


The sites that we examined may or may not have these types of ads on other pages than the ones we studied, but for the pages we looked at in the dates in question, the following websites did not employ these types of ads:

  1. Chicago Tribune
  2. Vice.com
  3. CNET.com
  4. Upworthy.com
  5. New York Times
  6. Buzzfeed
  7. Boston Globe
  8. Yahoo.com
  9. Mic.com

We will release more detailed findings from this study in the next two weeks, that examines the specific ads and advertisers, so please follow this blog for more details.

Please consider donating to support ChangeAdvertising’s work, via CrowdRise here.

About the Author


Our mission is to help people understand how websites and advertising companies are using their attention, personal data, and mobile bandwidth, and encourages discussion between people and the ad/data/publishing industries


  1. […] With 82% of Top News Sites Using These Ads, Are Come-Ons FTC-Compliant? – ChangeAdvertising.org. […]

  2. […] the top 50 news sites, 82% of which were using ‘content ads’ from vendors including Taboola, Outbrain, Revcontent and Adblade, amongst others. Our goal is to […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *