Monday Media: Is it a vice to fool your viewers about ads?

Media Signpost Showing Internet Television Newspapers Magazines And RadioI teach Journalism at University – and one of the lectures that I deliver is on how to make Journalism pay, in the digital era.

There is a feeling – based on some pretty good evidence – that ‘old media’ is a dying delivery system … that newspapers, TV and Radio as we know them, are doomed to die a slow and lingering death.

Now, that’s probably a little overblown – but there is also some good news.

New delivery systems are springing up all the time, keeping alive journalism in the traditional sense – acting as gatekeepers and conduits, bringing information to the world.

One of the experiments that I point out to students is Vice media … this started life as a youth magazine, but morphed into something quite different.

In fact, Vice media’s coverage of Eastern Europe has been held up as an example of how to cover a difficult region. By who? By the head of the BBC’s NewsBeat, who said her people were playing ‘catchup’, due to the agility and speed of the startup’s reporters (mostly freelancers)

film-camera_z1_GLFHu_LWell, now there’s a new chapter for the operation … Vice Media is set to become the first digital-media company to launch its own cable-TV channel.

According to the Wall St Journal, Vice Media’s pretty confident of its success with a new generation of young, techsavvy viewers.

And they’ll have to be tech-savvy – and media-savvy, too – because Viceland (the cute name given to the new cable channel) is aiming for roughly half its advertising inventory to be made up of “native” ads: ads packaged to look like editorial content and keep audiences from tuning out.

Often made by Vice itself, the WSJ says, these spots will frequently be longer than a typical 30-second ad and will be tailored specifically for the network, whose other owner, A+E, is jointly owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst.

Vice isn’t the only network looking to have more ‘native’ ads .. Turner Broadcasting has begun testing 50% lighter ad loads on its truTV and TNT networks, while launching a program of native ads to encourage brands to bring or create their own content that might stretch across the whole commercial break.

Now, these native ads are more than just ‘product placement’ .. they are ads that are integrated into the show.

Which raises a who swag of ethical questions: Just ask John Laws and Alan Jones.

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