John Oliver Takes on Native Advertising, Journalism's Raisin Cookie

Last Week Tonight isn't brought to you by anything, but that's a luxury most news outlets can't afford these days.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

John Oliver is no fan of native advertising. He considers it the raisin cookie of the journalistic world: appearing to be the chocolate chip of good writing and reporting, but actually something far less appealing. And no, that message wasn't brought to you by Chips Ahoy.

Last Week Tonight tackled the subject of ads disguised as journalistic content (including, it should be noted, sponsored content on The Atlantic) on last night's show, taking aim at organizations that make many of their bones from the practice. BuzzFeed alone makes 100% of its revenue off native advertising, according to CEO Jonah Peretti.

"His face is like BuzzFeed itself: successful, appealing, and yet somehow you want to punch it," Oliver said.

Yet Oliver saved most of his ammo for Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp, who tore down the wall between the business and editorial departments in his publications later this year. His justification: As long as readers know the difference between real journalistic content and native advertising, what does it matter?

But that's just it, according to Oliver. They can't. "A recent study showed that less than half of visitors to a news site could distinguish native advertising from actual news," he said. "And of course they can't. Because it's supposed to blend in."

In the clip above, Oliver also delves into what news content would look like within an ad and why the New York Times' branded content is like Katy Perry's "Roar." As a bonus, Oliver does this:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.