“Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver’s acclaimed HBO show, is getting journo-wonky on us, airing an 11-minute hit piece last night on the scourge of native advertising among big-time media players. Oliver took viewers on a quick history lesson through the innovation of blurring the lines between editorial content and advertising content, and then came to this conclusion: “I like to think of news and advertising as the separation of guacamole and Twizzlers. Separately they’re good. But if you mix them together, somehow you make both of them really gross.”

Among those mixing such treats is the New York Times, whose executive vice president of advertising, Meredith Levien, defended native advertising at a conference: “Let me start by vigorously refuting the notion that native advertising has to erode consumer trust or compromise the wall that exists between editorial and advertising. Good native advertising is just not meant to be trickery. It’s meant to be publishers sharing storytelling tools with marketers.”

Oliver jumped in: “Exactly, it’s not trickery. It’s sharing storytelling tools. And that’s not bull—-. It’s repurposed bovine waste.” Which brought the host to his verdict on native advertising: “In news, that is seemingly the model now. Ads are baked into content like chocolate chips into a cookie. Except, it’s actually more like raisins into a cookie because no one [expletive] wants them there.”

 

 

 

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.