How Native Advertising is Tricking You

Native Advertising is evil, and John Oliver grills it in this comedy routine

Native advertising is crap
Native advertising is crap

I started my career as a journalist. Warren Rogers, my editor and a well-known Washington D.C reporter, created a literal wall between the Georgetown Courier’s editorial department and the advertising team… it was wooden and about 4 feet tall. He taught me the importance of not having editorial pander to the needs of advertising. No lofty reviews of restaurants that took full-page ads out in our newspaper.

Sure the newspaper folded in about 6 months. And sure I now work in advertising. I still have a pet peeve about “native advertising,” which is basically advertisements that masquerade as content. You’ve seen them:

  • An apparent news story on a website that’s actually an ad for some diet product
  • A section of a magazine that, on closer inspection, is actually “advertorial” content (sponsored)
  • A tweet or Facebook post that’s paid content even though it’s designed to look like a post from a friend

We need to know when a commercial interest is impacting our news or entertainment. And it’s not often obvious. I don’t like search-engine results that are ads pretending to be organic. I don’t like product placement without credit/transparency. And I don’t like hitting a news website expecting to read an article, but it’s a poorly veiled attempt to pitch some crap.

Ads can do their job even when we know they’re ads. But news and entertainment cannot do their jobs when we have to worry about whether they’re ads or not.

So I took some pleasure in John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) absolutely ripping “native advertising” a second asshole. Enjoy…

My Best Video of 2010: Epic Kid Song Mix

I was excited to be in last week’s BarelyPolitical “Man Bat & Catwoman video” with Obama Girl, and post Mark’s obscenely-funny faux “behind the scenes.” It was great to be in Gay Leprechaun by Mediocrefilms. Fantastic to play the knife on Annoying Orange too.

But as far as my own videos go, this “Shnibl” remix video is the peak of my 2010. I can’t stop watching it. The backstory: My 6-year-old son, Charlie, grabbed an old camera yesterday, and did a little song and vlog called “Shnibl Show.” It made no sense, and that was its charm. After showing it to my wife and older kids last night (Katie and Patrick), we all roared with cathartic laughter we needed. Then I tweeted the following… and then there was this surprising response:

Last night's tweets led to this spontaneous collaboration of an ear worm.

So who is this masked man we call “songadaymann,” who sent me this lovely remix of Charlie’s song? He’s Jonathan Mann, also known for SongaTron and via his YouTube channel Rock Cookie Bottom. He’s been writing since he was 12 (just 6 years after my little Charlie), as he shares in his own fascinating bio video.

Most recently you may know Jonathan from his daily songs — the Paul Krugman tune as seen on TV, and the iPhone 4 Antenna Song played by Steve Jobs before his Antennagate press conference in July (2010) and wildly covered during the media hysteria that was iPhone4G’s launch.

Sure I knew about Jonathan, but I never imagined he new me — much less that he followed me on Twitter. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he’d a) see my Tweet, b) turn Charlie’s little jingle into a killer remix in hours. And it’s friggin’ awesome. It’s like Beatles meets Partridge Family meets hip hop. I had considered writing MysteryGuitarMan (who wrote the Nalts theme song), but was pretty confident he’s too busy and high profile for such a silly thing. Plus I didn’t want to try to hard… I was kinda hoping one would just appear.

This just in- Katinatreesee does the shnibl choir!

What do ya think? While I have your attention, I’d value your feedback in comments (I’m back to reading ’em) on my new YouTube channel design. It may not lok like it, but I’ve been fussing with it for about 6 hours (solo).