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John Oliver Exposes Media’s Dirty Secret: Now Disguising Ads as News

John Oliver is fed up with News Media Web sites that disguise advertisements as news. (Photo: HBO)

John Oliver is fed up with News Media Web sites that disguise advertisements as news. (Photo: HBO)

John Oliver has no qualms about exposing one of the media’s dirty little secrets; how it’s increasingly disguising advertising as news. The problem has only gotten worse with the rise of the Internet and it’s a race to the bottom.

Of course, Oliver’s cable network, HBO, doesn’t run ads, which he duly notes.

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So that gives him the freedom to criticize everyone else, especially BuzzFeed founder and Chief Executive Jonah Peretti and Time Inc. Chief Executive Joe Ripp.

The situation is so bad, it seems like the 1950s all over again.

“It’s generally agreed upon in journalism that there should be a wall separating the editorial and business side of news,” he explained. “But recently, the integrity of news has become harder to protect.”

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The problem, he says, is news has become like porn on the Internet. People want to see it, but they don’t want to pay for it.

Advertising is so ineffective online, some Web sites have begun offering what’s known as “native advertising.” That’s a sanitized way of saying advertising will be camouflaged to look like news.

“Even if you haven’t heard the term ‘native advertising,’ you have probably been subjected to it now,” Oliver says.

Indeed, many low-flying pop-culture sites from HollywoodLife to GossipCop are engaging in the advertising sleight-of-hand. But the biggest offender he noted were sites published by BuzzFeed and Time Inc.

“A recent study showed that less than half of visitors to a news site could distinguish native advertising from news,” Oliver noted. “Of course they can’t because it’s supposed to blend in.”

He particularly lambasts Time’s Ripp for boasting that he’s ended the separation of news and advertising at the once storied-bastion of journalism.

Check out the video below, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest media news.

Editor’s Note: TheImproper does not currently use native advertising.

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