Thursday, February 21, 2008

You might be more popular (on the internet) than Madonna

I'm working on some analysis of celebrity websites and the results so far are surprising. I started with the Forbes Celebrity 100. Here are some very rough notes.
  1. As expected, none of the top actors had a site while almost all of the musicians did. Other categories like athletes, directors, and comedians were mixed.

  2. The Forbes list matches up pretty well with the number of searches on Google Trends. That is, people of a similar celebrity level tend to get a similar number of search queries. They spike above each other based on news events, but most stay in the same range.

  3. Traffic on an individual celebrity's site may be surprisingly low. I looked at Madonna as an example of a celebrity with extremely high stature and a nice looking website. According to the reliably unreliable stats she only gets 25,000 visitors a month. So I'm guessing that an actor of similar stature, like Brad Pitt, would get roughly the same level of traffic.

  4. At current traffic levels it would be a money-losing proposition for an actor to build out a big website and make money by selling ads and merchandise. I'd charge a few hundred thousand dollars to build and maintain a site like, and even if every single visitor clicked through to iTunes and bought a CD it would only make few hundred thousand a year. This is the best answer so far as to why actors don't have websites.

  5. Oprah is an exception to any rule. She has a huge site with very high traffic -- it knocks all the others off the charts. I also found it to be the most engaging site I came across in my browsing. I'm not considering Oprah an actor (though she does act sometimes) and I really consider her site to be more of a brand site than a personal site. At the same time, Oprah and Martha Stewart are the prime examples of people who branded themselves and ported that brand to the internet. If all media as we know it ceased to exist tomorrow these two would have no problem porting their brands to whatever came next. Who wouldn't want a brand like that?

  6. That said, "Oprah" and "Madonna" get about the same number of daily search queries, so the market is there for Madonna. It just isn't going to her website.