John Oliver Quotes the IAB in Blistering Takedown of Native Ads

Proposal for BP-sponsored BuzzFeed post: '11 Sea Creatures Who Deserved to Die'

John Oliver's half-hour comedy news show on HBO has one really amazing regular feature: Rather than a lengthy interview or a musical guest, Oliver goes on a hilarious, impeccably researched 12-minutes-and-change rant about a particular hobby horse. Past victims have included FIFA, the U.S. prison system and net neutrality. This week, he lit into native advertising as deceptive and antithetical to the idea of journalism, and used an IAB report to do it.

Oliver quotes this July 22 press release in his monologue, noting that the IAB found that of respondents exposed to native ads, “less than half … [recognized] … that the material was advertising.” 

It's worth noting—as Oliver did—that one reason he gets to come down so hard on corporations is that he doesn't have to worry about biting the hand that feeds him. It's hard to imagine another television personality who would dare go after General Motors as unsparingly as Oliver managed to do in May.

"I am very aware that we are extremely lucky here at HBO in that we don’t have advertisers," Oliver said, "so if I want to say, for instance, that Cadbury Cream Eggs are filled with dolphin sperm, or that Old Navy clothing makes you look like a tacky murderer, or that Snickers only satisfies you for about eight minutes and then makes you hate yourself for the rest of the day, I can."

The comedian doesn't just stop with the concept of native ads, though—he also calls out New York Times Company evp of advertising Meredith Levien for saying that native ads "aren't meant to be trickery, they're meant to be a publisher sharing its storytelling tools with marketers."

"That's not bullshit, it's repurposed bovine waste," Oliver said. He also said that BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti's "face is like BuzzFeed itself: successful, appealing, and yet somehow you want to punch it."

Please post the Christmas cards you will be sending to the Oliver household below.