CARU, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of BBB National programs, issued a compliance warning last week reminding industry that the self-regulating body on children’s advertising and privacy intends to enforce its advertising guidelines in the metaverse, just like in the real world.
CARU’s August 23 compliance warning puts companies on notice of what perhaps should have been obvious: its guidelines for advertising to children apply in the metaverse, too. The warning heavily analogizes the metaverse, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) worlds to other digital spaces like smartphone apps and online videos. CARU emphasizes the need to:
avoid blurring the lines between advertising and non-advertising content;
clearly disclose the use of brand-sponsored avatar influencers;
avoid manipulative tactics that induce children to view or interact with ads or to make in-game purchases; and
use clear, understandable, easily noticeable and prominent disclosures, repeated if necessary to ensure children notice and understand them.
The metaverse is a new area of focus for CARU and BBB National Programs: two recent posts, Know the Rules: How to Be Age Appropriate in the Metaverse and Advertising And Privacy: The Rules Of The Road For The Metaverse, emphasize the need to make sure advertising is truthful, non-deceptive and clearly identifiable as advertising, especially in brand-sponsored worlds. CARU recommends that advertisers and operators anticipate and stay aware of how their child audiences interact with the metaverse experience, including how, when and where ads will be shown to them and how influencers will engage in the space.