Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

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Think about the most popular brands in celebrity news and you’ll probably come up with a small list that includes Entertainment Tonight, US Weekly, and People.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

Think of the most successful celebrity news destinations on the web, and something else jumps to the top. For more than a year, one site has drawn more eyeballs than any other in the celebrity gossip realm: Yahoo Inc.’s omg.

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With a dedicated staff of just five people and more than a dozen shared with other Yahoo sites, the company has settled on a formula that Yahoo Media Group chief Jimmy Pitaro calls “very profitable,” though Yahoo would not disclose details.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

The fact that Yahoo’s entertainment site is outperforming rivals that aim to break the news — such as, which broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death — helps illustrate that online success isn’t always about being first. and have exclusives.

It also marks a rare success for the troubled Internet portal, which has lost thousands of employees and shuttered several businesses, a process that CEO Carol Bartz accelerated after she was hired in January.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

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While Bartz said at a shareholder meeting in June that she felt too many entertainment stories were making Yahoo’s front page, Pitaro said she was a strong supporter of the company’s media properties in general.

Omg puts a light, positive spin on articles and other tidbits that mostly come from other news organizations like Access Hollywood and The Associated Press. Yahoo’s vital placement of omg links and blurbs on its home page gives it access to about 500 million unique visitors per month.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

The strategy hurt the 2-year-old site from People and TMZ, both units of Time Warner Inc., as well as other popular celebrity sites like

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According to the latest data from tracking company comScore, omg clocked in at 20.6 million unique visitors in May, up 65 percent from a year ago and up from No. 2 TMZ and number 3 people together.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

Most of OMG’s traffic comes from people clicking through to Yahoo’s homepage, which critics and competitors feel gives it an unfair advantage. Although omg readers see an average of half the number of pages once they arrive — about 16 compared to 29 for all entertainment news properties — the site still ranks No. 1 in total page views in the category.

Other major media organizations have taken notice. In February, Microsoft Corp and Hollywood production company BermanBraun jointly launched Wonderwall with a similar strategy to attract traffic from a major portal – in this case, Microsoft’s MSN. As an omg, Wonderwall operates with a small staff, about a dozen full-time employees.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

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“Our traffic is beyond any estimate that any of us projected,” said Berman Brown co-owner Lloyd Brown, a TV executive and former head of Yahoo Media Group.

In April, the last month its data was released, Wonderwall had 9 million unique visitors, putting it ahead of People and third behind TMZ in comScore’s ranking among other entertainment news sites.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

“They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t affiliated with Yahoo or MSN or these big corporate entities,” said Perez Hilton, the celebrity blogger who runs “I think their number is wrong.”

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Omg, like its rivals, says it is gradually getting more of its traffic “organically,” through search queries or people bookmarking the site. But there’s no doubt that traffic from the portal helps it stand out among the 1,000 or so celebrity news stories that have popped up in recent years and sometimes fall flat.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

The tone of omg, like Yahoo itself, is bright, cheerful and non-judgmental. Blurbs written by OMG staff link to original stories and photos elsewhere on Yahoo or other sites.

In the wake of Jackson’s unexpected death, Omg takes a respectful, celebratory look at the pop icon’s life through photo galleries and celebrity reaction stories, leaving fast-moving news on the front page and Yahoo News.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

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“We just want to take a happy look at what’s going on in the entertainment world,” said Sybil Goldman, vice president of the entertainment group.

That flashy spin attracted advertisers worried that appearing alongside careless scandal stories would turn off some consumers. State Farm Insurance Cos.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

“It’s not all about traffic,” says Ed Gold, the insurance company’s director of advertising. “Our goal is not to put State Farm in environments that aren’t right for our brand.” There are some (famous sites) that may go a little too far in what they cover.

Commotion As Yahoo Boy’s British Client Snatches His Wife (photos) editor Mark Golin said that while such sites can attract a lot of visitors, relying on the portal’s homepage may not work in the long run. Although people benefit from links on the AOL home page and other sites — even omg — Golin said most of the traffic comes directly to the site. People writers work for both the magazine and the website, though he did not disclose how many.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

“We have our own reporters. We are creating our own center of gravity,” Golin said. “Even if readers have heard a story somewhere else, they still come to us to make sure it’s true.” You don’t necessarily get that with an aggregator. “

Taking advantage of the portal’s size is nothing new: TMZ launched in November 2005 attached to AOL’s homepage. What is surprising about the success of omg and Wonderwall is the lack of any aspiration for breaking news, while focusing on glossy packaging and magazine-like photos.

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“I think omg is great for what they do. It’s different from what we do. We break stories,” said TMZ Executive Producer Harvey Levin. “You don’t have to depend on another place to get all your traffic. .. It’s just better business.”

Levin said his reporters are trying to unearth court documents, produce original video clips and obtain exclusive information.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

Big breaks included actor Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade during a drunk-driving arrest and racist epithets hurled at Michael Richards at a West Hollywood comedy club. TMZ also broke the news of Jackson’s death more than half an hour before traditional news organizations.

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“If you consider our competitors who have relatives who are TV broadcasters, they get tons of on-air promotion,” Pitaro said. “We set ourselves apart by striking the right tone and curating the best content on the web.”

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

While the number of pageviews on omg, Wonderwall, and other entertainment sites is staggering, the revenue is probably pretty small (Yahoo doesn’t disclose numbers for omg).

Companies pay about $10 or more for every 1,000 people who view a website displaying their ad. With 321 million page views in May, that’s about $3.2 million in ad revenue — more than enough to cover five salaries, but peanuts for Yahoo, which averaged about $600 million in monthly revenue last year.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

The Insider’ Joins Forces With Yahooomg

Internet entertainment is also becoming more crowded with well-funded players. Along with Wonderwall, News Corp.’s DailyFill launched in February, though there are no plans for now to tie up with the corporate traffic behemoth, MySpace.

Pitaro said the company aims to keep costs down while focusing blogs or videos on topics Yahoo knows its users are interested in, based on the most popular search terms, which typically refer to celebrities.

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

He said he’s not afraid of new competition either, even from sites that have imitated omg’s photo-focused navigation page.

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“We like the idea of ​​others investing in the space because together we will generate buzz and interest in this arena,” he said. “But hopefully we’ll all grow up.”

Yahoo Entertainment News Gossip And Celebrity

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