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Native-Ad Experts Critique John Oliver’s Harsh Critique of Native Advertising

OliverPhotograph by Eric Liebowitz/HBO

On Sunday night on HBO, comedian John Oliver took a pickax to native advertising, arguing that the trendy marketing practice is a threat to the editorial independence of newsrooms, tends to mislead readers, erodes trust, and is a disturbing symptom of the broader financial problems hampering print news organizations as they adapt to the Web. Along the way, he described the mingling of news and advertising as akin to dipping Twizzlers in guacamole (“really gross”) and compared the results to botched heart surgery.

“In news, that is seemingly the model now,” the comedian said on his show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. “Ads are baked into content like chocolate chips into a cookie. Except, it’s actually more like raisins into a cookie—because nobody f-‍-‍-ing wants them there.”