Is Native Advertising destroying journalism?

Andrew Sullivan seems to think that native advertising most certainly is destroying journalism.

He comments on Ezra Klein’s Vox project raising $110 million over recent years and their stated business plans.

If the new media brands that have emerged over the last couple of years were described (accurately) as new advertising agencies, the stories might not have had as much traction (or contained as much hope for the future of journalism). But that, it is quite clear, is what most of these new entities are. Vox has now dropped any pretensions that it is not becoming an ad agency, creating “articles” that perpetuate and distribute the marketing strategies of major corporations.

The logic of this, from a business standpoint, is so powerful almost no one can resist it. Display or banner advertising is sinking into an after-thought, leaving journalism with a huge revenue crisis – especially when you have no subscription income from readers. And when you’re drowning in venture capital, the pressure to to find a way to pay it back eventually must, even now, be crushing. There’s no other explanation for the fullscale surrender of journalism to what would, only five years ago, have been universally understood as blatant corruption.

What always amazes me about the interviews with the various media professionals involved is their use of the English language. It’s close to impenetrable to anyone outside the industry – e.g. “publishers have to get better with understanding the product side of native” – which, of course, helps to disguise the wholesale surrender of journalism to public relations. What also amazes me is how silent the actual editors of these sites are on the core, and once-deemed-unethical, foundation of their entire business. So we’re unlikely to hear Ezra explain to his liberal readers how he’s now engaged in the corporate propaganda business. But if you scan the interview with Vox‘s new fake article guru, Lindsay Nelson, some truths slip out. To wit:

You’re going to need to be great storytellers and create things that help advertisers with the goals that they have for that quarter … We’re trying to become a consulting partner, where we help brands and guide them to develop a content marketing strategy that is 12-months long … If there’s something in the news that a brand wants to be close to you can get them up and running with the same type of polish that they would expect from advertising that takes much longer.

So even breaking news may well be advertising in the near future. And good luck telling the difference.

Read more »

Herald busted over native advertising

Have you read The NZ Herald and their 12 questions series?

What about the constant featuring of their Brand insights and the strange articles about people attending the University of Auckland MBA course?

Well wonder no more.

It is actually undisclosed paid advertising masquerading as journalism and boy are they happy about the results.

After my posts of yesterday this turned up on the tipline.

Subject: UABS and NZ Herald Partnership


As many of you will be aware, the Business School has been involved in running a marketing partnership with the New Zealand Herald over the past few months which we drove through the Graduate School of Management.  The New Zealand Herald took our programme into their Brand Insights initiative  around 2 months ago and the analytics have without doubt proven the campaign to be a success. The partnership delivered a mix of contributed articles from academics, a weekly blog from one of our current MBA students Sarah Stuart (well known NZ journalist, ex Deputy Editor of the Herald on Sunday and Editor of Woman’s weekly as well as the face of the Herald’s 12 questions series) and a video series using Sarah’s well known 12 questions format. We were also able to run advertising  for specific events for the MBA programme or promote Executive Education courses as part of the campaign page. The partnership ran over 6 months (we are finalising our last two videos at this time featuring Professor Kaj Storbacka and Dr Lester Levy and our final 3 contributed articles will run by mid Nov). Some highlights from the analytics of our campaign without going into pages of detail or graph overload show that the content was engaging, on average the blogs achieved excellent readership (unique views on some blogs hit well over 5,000 and on the aggregator over half a million impressions).  Average time spent reading the blogs was 3 minutes, similar time was spent on the videos and on the contributed articles.  When the content aggregator was used, naturally the blogs and articles were more prominent on the site.

The link below will take you to our page where you can view some of Sarah’s blogs and our academic staff contributed articles:

And this link will take you to an example of one of the videos:

Through analysis we were able to determine that the campaign drove traffic to the GSM website directly from the NZ Herald and those that visited the site were looking at between 2 to 6 pages after landing, suggesting a genuine interest in the programme, the requirements etc.  Read more »

The flag? Really?

John Key is man possessed.  He seems to want a flag change for his trophy wall

Prime Minister John Key is pushing on with a referendum on changing the flag, and will write to political parties asking them to join a cross-party committee in the coming days.

Mr Key named the referendum as one of his third-term priorities following National’s election win and brought it up at his address to the RSA national conference today.

He wants the committee to meet sometime this year to discuss how a referendum would take place and consider the legislation which would support the binding vote.

It is likely it will be a two-step referendum, with the first step as a run-off between alternative designs by the end of 2015, and the most popular of these up against the current flag around April 2016.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English will also likely lead the process.

“We’ve had this debate roaming around for the better part of the last 25 years and we need to put it to bed one way or the other and make a call on it,” Mr Key says.

Mr Key believes the argument for a new flag is strong, but people are likely to be against switching flags because people don’t like change.

Actually, I think we’re wondering if we’ve run out of important things to do.   It seems such a change for change’s sake kind of thing for a Government to do.  If it was part of a move to a republic for example, then I can understand it.  But just to change the flag because… just to change it?

Read more »


A word on native advertising

Sorry to quote Andrew Sullivan twice in one day but he makes another very good point, this time on the media jumping boots and all into that they call native advertising.

Native advertising for those who don’t know is advertising dressed up as news….masquerading as an article.

I’ve been warning for a while that when established journalistic outlets whore themselves out to corporate propaganda through “sponsored content”, they are playing a mug’s game. The only reason these companies are paying these media outlets to disguise their ads as editorial copy is because they can still trade on those outlets’ residual reputation. But as native advertising cumulatively undermines that reputation, magazines and newspapers will lose their luster. Instead, corporations will simply fund and create their own pseudo-journalism directly, and cut out the middleman altogether.

This isn’t some future specter; it’s already here.

Read more »

Back in ya box El Presidente


Via the Fish-gang tip-line.

Regular readers will know the Government has finally shut the door on the cartel-like rort that was (and still is) the little known Building Service Contractors New Zealand or BSC for short.

A reader has sent through the recent BSC AGM minutes. They’re interesting reading.

Some may know that El Presidente Patrick Lee-Lo got a slapping for attacking the $1b franchise industry – despite having so-called members actually being franchise members.

Looks like Paddy is doing a flip-flop and now sees the BSC as a franchisor keen on flogging off their recent CleanSweep event.


Will the BSC now be seeking membership of the Franchise Association of New Zealand?   Read more »

What is the Health Committee doing?


Sometimes you really have to wonder whether MPs actually think about what they’re doing.

Right now the Health Select Committee is having another bash at tobacco companies, this time wanting plain packaging. There’s a novel idea.

Slight problem though. In their desire to hammer Big Tobacco they’re creating a whole new world of marketing that exploits the whole plain packaging effort.

Doritos have come up with plain packaging for their Dorito’s chips. They’re keen as.

“Dominic Twyford, client director at Landor said the move would draw existing customers to the brand. “It will make existing customers feel like a part of the brand, mirroring the co-creation trend that is increasingly popular at the moment and attract new customers to try the brand,” Twyford added.   Read more »

**** the poor

Caution:  Language

(Please be sensible with your comments)

Saturday nightCap

Herald Editorial on Aussie supermarket bullying

The NZ Herald editorial discusses the Aussie supermarket anti-Kiwi sentiment.

A buy-Australian campaign in two Australian supermarket chains is a sobering lesson for the Green Party and anyone else in New Zealand who advocates the same thing here. The unfairness to suppliers from this country is exactly the effect a buy-New Zealand campaign has in other countries, though the scale of our market diminishes the impact on most of them and increases the damage to us.

The smaller a population, the less it can afford to favour its own suppliers – unless it wants to settle for a more limited range of goods and services, at higher prices, than the rest of the developed world enjoys. That is precisely the reason New Zealand is in the vanguard of global efforts to liberalise trade.

A world in which all markets are accessible to the most competitive suppliers, no matter where they live, is much more important to New Zealand than to, say, the United States or France, though they stand to benefit too.  Read more »

MBIE investigation into building products likely to resolve nothing

Lately the Housing Affordability politicking has turned its attention towards building materials – manufacturing and supply and how the industry is contributing to high prices through what appear to be significantly more expensive materials than are available overseas. The questions have led to an enquiry that seeks feedback from the industry.

Whilst the likelihood is a low turnout on submissions due to fears of being black listed by the big suppliers it is interesting that much focus is upon incentives and price fixing and what happens within the building materials industry to fix prices high, maintain that equilibrium and shit out competition.

Section 4 of the enquiry questionnaire entitled: ‘competition impact of strategic conduct in construction markets’ notes the following issue.

Issue: Lack of Transparency of Strategic Practices

‘Strategic practices such as the provision of rebates or targeted discounts have the potential to constrain access to distribution channels for building materials. The lack of transparency around their use also means the benefits that result from them are less likely to be passed to end consumers’.

What this is about is such practices as ‘cover pricing’ – the act of having a face price but offering rebates and incentives, loyalty schemes between merchants and tradespeople as well as other schemes.   Read more »