Paid news and advertising

I was watching this hilarious but thought provoking take on advertising in news these days by John Oliver. He argues how corporate advertising is taking over our news and how it has become difficult to distinguish a paid ad vs an authentic piece of news. His comments apply very well to the Indian scenario.

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Hilarious - with an important message. The camouflage analogy succinctly describes the state of mind of the average news consumer, who is not necessarily on the lookout to make a distinction between news and sponsored content. However, the point about consumer behavior of not willing to pay for online content being the driver for this does seem a bit self serving.

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I like the way you put.

It is a good point. Consumers neither want ads nor pay for the content online. While this could be a reason why media is taking this direction of paid content and news placements, I do not believe consumers alone are to blame. In fact, if you look deeper into this you may see they are only playing a small part.

While only online new-media can get some consideration concerning using paid articles and sponsored content as it can be argued to be their only source of revenue (with advertising space and subscription models not working so well), we can’t give that exemption for traditional media.

Take the case of print media. Traditional print media has always survived on subscriptions. And do so even now. But that’s not stopping them from using their space for paid content and promotions. There are paid placements as ads alone as well as camouflaged as editorial content. And there have been cases of paid, planted news stories as well.

Same is the case with Television media as well who rake in money in crores with traditional advertising. There have been cases in India where they have indulged in paid news promotions. This behaviour is pure greed on the part of our media.

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We as consumers want free content online because we got used to it. And that’s because these media companies in a rush to get on to the internet and please their customers offered us all that we needed for free, thinking they can monetize online well using advertising. And am sure they do that as well. Like @aravind said it is just greed on the part of the media. We, consumers, are ready to pay the subscription charges when the quality of content is good and unique. But that’s hardly the case these days. Everyone is publishing the same stories and we can always get it for free from some source.