Ever since John Oliver’s HBO show Last Week Tonight premiered in April the former Daily Show correspondent has hilariously brought a great many issues and topics to light. There was his FIFA rant during the World Cup, his amazing interview with Stephen Hawking, his complete decimation of Dr. Oz, his dramatic reading of Warren G. Harding’s love letters and his epic explanation of America’s broken prison system. So it’s no surprise Oliver was able to make the seemingly boring concept of “native advertising” not only interesting but poignant and funny on last night’s episode of Last Week Tonight.
In short, native advertising takes the form of paid content from sponsors on Websites (just like banner ads) except that it’s meant to appear like the site’s regular content. The folks that run content sites defend native advertising, explaining as long as it’s labeled “sponsored,” they’re doing nothing wrong. But Oliver and many consumers see native advertising as a way to trick readers into believing paid content is actual, unbiased news. Part of the problem is those creating native ads are trying trick readers but won’t admit to it.
“It’s generally agreed upon in journalism that there should be a wall separating the editorial and the business side of news,” Oliver says on Last Week Tonight. “It’s sometimes referred to as the separation of Church and State. Although 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.” Check out the full Last Week Tonight segment below!