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Can the sanctity of journalism be maintained in an era of native advertising? Case study of Netflix
Advertisers have long paid to tell brand stories to influence brand attitudes. Today, people have embraced a world where they act as much like publishers, programmers and content providers as they do consumers of content. Advertisers therefore had to find ways to attract consumers to interact and engage with content or lose their attention altogether. This led to the rise of ‘native advertising’ — content that follows the form and function of the surrounding subject matter. Editors and journalists decry this practice as a blatant violation of the separation of church and state, while publishers embrace it as it has funnelled billions of dollars back into their businesses, which had been suffering from a decline in traditional media consumption. Who is right and who is wrong is up for debate. But one advertiser is ignoring rhetoric and producing compelling content that consumers are reading, engaging with and sharing. That advertiser is Netflix, a streaming video service that produces and distributes its own original programming. With a commitment to respecting church and paying its dues to state, Netflix has funded the investigation and reporting of stories that tell the truth behind some of its fictional series. These articles have proven to be some of the most popular content on the publisher's sites such as nytimes. com and wsj.com and have had a positive impact on consumers' views of Netflix and its original programming — proof that the practice itself is not flawed. Rather, it is about respect for truth, transparency and the desire to provide valuable content and experience.
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