Marketers should consider investing in content strategies at the expense of PPC campaigns to avoid issues with sponsorship transparency.

Encouraged by the results of internet marketing, brands continue to funnel more resources into web content and SEO strategies. Brafton recently covered a Search Engine Marketing Benchmark report, which found companies are dividing their investments between organic SEO, PPC and social media marketing. It’s wise to create a diverse portfolio in web marketing, but recent developments suggest paid campaigns may not necessarily be the safest bet.

Techno-Net recently altered the internet marketing industry via a Tweet that Yahoo appears to be testing different colors for the backgrounds of its sponsored ad space. The source posted a picture of Yahoo’s paid ads featuring a duller-than-usual background (Techno-Net calls the faded background green, but it looks like a toned-down version of the usual blue backdrop).

A little color change will splash things up, right? The variable might even cause higher clickthrough rates. However, this might fall into a practice the Federal Trade Commission recently spoke out against.

Brafton covered the FTC’s letter to search engines and social networks, warning them that sponsored ads must be transparent and easy to identify, or they could be considered deceptive for consumer audiences. Search sites were advised to use consistent visual cues across platforms to make it easy for internet users to identify when they were seeing organic versus paid web content. The FTC even suggested following industry norms for shading, borders and text labels to avoid confusing consumers.

Given these strict parameters, it might be risky to experiment with background colors, which could lead internet users to believe the content they are seeing is different from the domains featured in regular blue boxes. Taking the safe route, and focusing on organic content promotion through SEO best practices might prove the better option in the long run.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.