The last time Britney Spears was taken to the hospital, the Queen of Media's site, perezhilton.com had 10 million hits to the site because of its moment-by-moment coverage. Now, just weeks later, ads are all over the place on the site as online advertisers scramble to go where the eyeballs fall. Online Blog Gossip Perez showcases his own style, all pink hair and tacky talk, and has become a celebrity himself in the process. He's also raking in the ad dollars for Hollywood-related and celebrity advertising.
Now he once again capture$ attention for the continuing latest-breaking Britney breakdown, posting news as it unfolded in today's wee hours.
The L.A. Times story was top for Google News on the subject of Britney's latest hospitalization today with a 1:53 a.m. dateline. A major media staff writer jumped quickly to publish and major newspapers around the world picked up the story. Google News had 128 stories by 9:00 a.m. ET. Perez's coverage had four stories as the latest crisis unfolded and he was reporting on Pacific time, ending his late night/early morning hours reporting sometime after Britney's trip to the hospital with the story, Britney Hospitalized!!!! Put Under Psychiatric Hold!!!!!! AGAIN!!!!!! Perez's stories aren't dated or timed, but his latest story was written reporting a 1:35 a.m. ambulance trip and included an update with additional information from the L.A. Times article and is typical of how blogs can capture the unfolding story with updates better than news stories can. The most recent blog post is published at the top and one scrolls down for previous stories. For media news, this is important as a trend. The blog format is well-suited to report on news-as-it-unfolds. Haven't you ever turned on CNN for the latest update on a breaking story and have to sit through the cycle just to get an update? Scrolling and clicking is so much faster and can be done with niche reporting (which Perez does with his ability to report on Britney). Blogs are always accessible if you have a portal and the user pulls and culls. The non-standard-journalism, non-traditional media outlet that Perez runs doesn't do the media standards for date/time but blog readers know the latest story is at the top. It was only this month I reported how the NYTimes public editor wrote about new policies at the nation's leading traditional newspaper. The New York Times had to change date/time stamps for stories due to changing online media readership and archival requirements creating a need for new professional standards. Online news has changed the rules. (But I digress into journalism details which isn't my point necessarily as I look at this story from a media angle.)
Perez takes images from the paparazzi pack following Britney and then adds his own photoshopping touches, many including signature comments as he did with this photograph from WENN that he used for his top story as he clicked off his final post for the evening in California. A traditional media outlet would never draw a man's unit on a published photo as Perez does nearly every day. When night-owl Perez sleeps his site snoozes, too. For coverage of SagaSpears, who also keeps late-night hours and is never seen in early morning, it is a story that he can cover that media with 8 - 5 working day hours can't. He's rising as the go-to-guy for the Pacific-time celebrity stories.
AP's story two days ago, An Economy Grows Around Britney Spears, noted that "for a growing number of people and businesses, Britney's saga is about money: Every time she sinks to new lows, cash flows." The article by Jeremy Herron quoted X17 paparazzi agency founder as saying "Britney is the most bankable celebrity out there right now, and she has been for the past year." That agency operates an online site that my sister-in-law directed me to as she found it offensive that the agency ran obscene graphic photos of Britney starting her period in a story about how she was not pregnant by her latest (paparazzi) boyfriend (who also profited from his relationship with her but he works with another paparazzi agency).
The weekly news magazines such as People and US and OK are scrambling to have relevant information that isn't dead once the mag hits the newsstands. Those with internet connections have the news-as-it-happens so the ad dollars going to the weekly gossip mags will hit a lower demographic. Other sites are scrambling to imitate the voice and tone of the Perez celebrity gossip site and Britney coverage has escalated.
Tone and voice and point-of-view - something pink-haired Perez has nailed - is a distinction of the new media that can showcase personality, help blogs find their niche and yet is also part of the criticism and discussion of where journalists/bloggers fit in the news reporting business. What Perez does would be deemed unprofessional by all counts in the old media arena.
Online ads are expected to grow. I'd give you the exact amounts but I lost my media research in my laptop crash last week. These stories attract attention, therefore the eyeballs that the advertisers want. By the time the stories are published in print, the news is old. Even though celebrity magazine sales for weekly publications such as Star and In Touch inched up 1% in the first half of 2007, adverting in other traditional media continues to drop as traditional media sales and readership continues a decline.
Media, media, media. Britney's $ad $aga is also a case study in how the media landscape is changing. 2008 is the tectonic shift for online media and advertising. Just watch.