Francis Turner, general manager and chief revenue officer at native advertising firm, AdYouLike, has penned a lengthy piece on The Next Web in which he takes issue with a recent Huffington Post article Ralph Nader wrote in which he basically blames fake news on advertisers. While Nader makes some valid points about the potential sketchiness of native advertising and its potential for deception, he goes on to equate it with fake news.
Mostly Nader is talking about the
long-used advertorial and writes, "The intent of an advertorial is shameless deception, to fool readers into absorbing a one-sided marketing release without even realizing it. With the oversaturation
of easily-ignorable advertising in other mediums, this old tactic has re-emerged online with new life."
Bringing fake news into his argument, Nader adds, "Before the term’s emergence as a political buzzword, however, 'fake news' has existed as a device of corporate marketers and advertisers whose deceptive tactics continue to evolve in the digital age. And has it evolved!"
To a point, he's right. It has evolved and, for all intents and purposes, the advertorial has become native advertising. But he's right only in the sense the advertiser is saying whatever it takes to get you to buy the product. Usually, it's not lying. Most often, it's overstating the truth and putting a pretty coat of paint on an all too shabby product. But rarely, is it ever outright fake.
In response to Nader, Turner writes, "Rubbish. If any relationship between fake news and advertising exists, it’s parasitic, driven by greedy producers spreading viral-ready click-bait across social channels. Unwitting consumers who click are redirected to the shameless, deceptive content creator’s site. As the visit number increases, so does the advertisers’ bill. While they may be getting exposure, it’s likely not the exposure they want."
Perhaps we need a new term for the Naders of the world who are rightly concerned about the validity and factual nature of the information people consume. It's quite true the term fake news gets tossed around to the point where it's become meaningless and is now commonly used as a term to describe news (fake or not) that people disagree with. Well there's a better word for that. Bias. News has always been biased.
Rarely has it ever been fake -- at
least from the usual sources.
Does fake news exist? Certainly. Is the term fake news overused? Absolutely! Have people become so rigid in their beliefs they'd rather believe a news outlet is lying rather than accept it's simply reporting something with which they disagree? Totally. Are advertisers to blame for fake news? Not directly. Are ads found on maliciously fake news websites? Yes but likely not by choice and likely not so easily avoided in today's programmatically controlled ad world.
The cure? Everyone take a Chill Pill and understand you are not always right, your favorite news outlet is not always right, you will never agree with everything you see or hear, other people's opinions and viewpoints are completely valid and no, bias is not the same thing as fake news.