December 18, 2008

A Public Service Announcement: It doesn't have to be this way.

I’ve generally given up on celebrity gossip blogs – though once obsessed with Pink is the New Blog, I could never quite get on the Pop Sugar or Perez Hilton bandwagon, and, frankly, once Trent moved to LA and became a full-time blogger/partygoer, his commentary just didn’t feel original anymore.

Now, my blog reading is mostly limited to ones by my friends, about cooking, or GoFygYourself (not technically a gossip blog, though it does feature celebrities - this one I read for the brilliant commentary and constant 90210 references) and PopWatch, from Entertainment Weekly (Yes, Hollywood-focused, but moreso on things like casting news and industry trends, which clearly makes it more high brow.).

But no matter how hard I try, at least once a week I find myself reading an inane “article” about Katie Holmes’s brainwashed home life or Jessica Simpson’s feeingls about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I catch myself, and wonder, “Where am I? How did I get here? Where did I go so wrong?”

Well friends, the problem stems from corporate America.

You see: Entertainment Weekly is owned by Time Warner, which also owns People, and therefore So, at the bottom right of every PopWatch page, there is a small text ad box featuring headlines from Now, as a marketing professional, I’ve done this and tracked results and I know that this is a tactic that works – using your website’s network/parent company/partnerships to promote relevant content (Makes sense: You have a captive audience and content you’re pretty sure they’ll be interested in.). In my case, it’s also proof positive that text ads are more efficient display ads than banners. And let me tell you – it’s like a gateway drug.

I always find myself reading these headlines, and, inevitably, I click on a headline like “Jeremy Piven Abruptly Abandons Broadway Play.” It’s innocent enough, but has its own network of sites, including Fox News and Huffington Post and other terribly sensationalist ones, and while I think that I’m just going to quickly read about how Will Smith donated $1.3 million to charity this year (Because I need another reason to love him?) before you know it, I’m learning about how “Even the Trump Family Re-Gifts Christmas Presents.”

Kids, listen to me. Don’t make the same mistakes as I have: JUST SAY NO.