Advertising in the metaverse: an American association is sounding the alarm

In the United States, an organization recently 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 metaverse advertising and that CARU will strictly enforce the guidelines of ads from the metaverse,” said Mamie Kresses, vice president of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).

Hidden ads in games

CARU also clarified that its guidelines prohibit advertisers from hiding advertising and non-advertising content directed at children using the metaverse.

“Hiding advertising and non-advertising content aimed at children is not new. However, the sophisticated techniques used by brands to hide these ads in the metaverse is a concern for CARU. Today, advertisements can easily be integrated into interactive games, entertainment and educational content. This can be combined with a mix of influencer marketing and user-generated content, in increasingly connected spaces.

The organization also stressed that ads should be easily identifiable. Therefore, it calls on advertisers to show transparency within these virtual environments. It, “takes into account the particular vulnerabilities of children to avoid any misleading, misleading or inappropriate advertising”.

Advertising in the Metaverse: Advertiser Techniques

According to CARU, brands can use several methods to help children identify advertising content. For example, the use of “text size and color, positioning, and other visual or contextual cues, such as borders or background shades in ads.”

CARU also calls on advertisers to avoid “trick interfaces,” that is, interfaces specifically designed to trick children into viewing ads 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 comprehensible language, that it is advertising. In addition, many metaverses, whether sponsored by the brand or independently run, contain advertisements that accompany the theme and content of the game and that children do not always recognize”.

New rules for advertising aimed at children

CARU has no jurisdiction, but seeks the voluntary cooperation of brands. Violations may, however, be reported to a federal regulatory agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Here are the things brands should look at before advertising in the metaverse, according to Ms. Cress:

  • Do not hide advertising and non-advertising content

In the metaverse, brands can hide their ads in educational content, interactive games or entertainment. According to CARU, they should make their advertisements easily recognizable.

  • Don’t Hide From Influencer Marketing

Within the metaverse, influencers use avatars to interact with children to promote brands. Children should know that there is a material relationship between the influencer and the advertiser.

  • Do not use manipulative techniques

Hiding advertising in a child-oriented 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 should be clear and adapted to the children’s language proficiency level.

As the metaverse gains traction, it’s time to put the necessary measures in place to protect children.


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