The Celebrity Swindler Gets Swindled; How Clickbait is the New IVT

When you see an article written by Teresa Roca, the former senior editor of RadarOnline, who joined The Sun as a senior entertainment reporter, run for the hills. Well, in your case, hit the exit button. She has built her entire journalism career—unbeknownst to her—on clickbait.

Over the last five years, programmatic advertising has cracked down on many traffic scams. Google, which runs the ad world, has put many AI measures in place, and now they are enforcing social media to ban celebrity fan pages and celebrity accounts that are false advertising with #LinkInBios and “click here” scams. 

Let me tell you how the online-media gets richer in our world. It’s called “arbitrage,” an archaic tactic used by the old guard like The Sun, UsWeekly, InTouch, Life & Style, Radar Online and Celebuzz—just to name a few. They make money in the middle via celebrities’ social media accounts. The equation is simple, pay an agency $150k to make $200k via programmatic advertising and intrusive video ads. American Media Inc. (AMI), prior to becoming A360 Media, LLC., spent over $3 million in clickbait traffic from 2018 to 2020. But is the traffic valid?

This is where the swindler gets swindled. The celebrities making a measly $1k to $3k a month, begging fans to click on a fake pregnancy story, a fake breakup or pretending they are crying over a celebrity death, are generating a massive return for their agency. The same agency controls the celebrity’s social media account—reading their DMs and sharing private information with tabloid rags, blocking fans who say “clickbait” and deteriorating engagement. 

The highest paid celebrity for clickbait was Kailyn Lowry of MTV, who received $450k over 2.5 years, generating a revenue of over $3 million for her agency. To Lowry’s credit, she walked away from clickbait as her fans started turning against her and her Teen Mom alum friend Catelynn Baltierra, as Baltierra was getting thrashed online as “Clickbait Cate.” 

Baltierra of Teen Mom OG on MTV told FACTZ, “I did participate in clickbait for a while. I was known as Clickbait Cate and hated that but what I hated more were the lies it was spreading. Using fake pregnancies irritated me and came off as disrespectful to people who have lost children, myself included. I knew I had to stop it because nothing about it was factual, and the individual posting on my account was spreading false news. I have expressed my apologies to my supporters multiple times and will always continue to do so.”

The celebrities do not realize that 90 percent of the money they generate is not going to them. Lowry, who was the highest paid, was an anomaly at 22 percent personal return. Bravo TV Real Housewives like Tamra Judge and Teresa Giudice are some of the lowest paid but highest revenue producers. They make a measly $1,500 a month, with Kim Zolciak-Biermann being the highest earning former Real Housewife at $3k to $5k a month. 

Here’s the kicker. Fans are not stupid as the bounce rate for the traffic is high at 90-percent-plus, with a 10 to 12 second time read on the web page. Technically we call this IVT—invalid traffic. The data is similar to bot traffic as it does not stick. Fans are being lied to by the celebrity and making the celebrity extremely dishonest, not disclosing they are making revenue—a massive FTC violation. Best of all, their contracts with the network prohibit them from monetizing off their trademark without permission. 

So why risk their entire brand to make a couple of bucks, make everyone rich besides themselves, and take on all the illegal risk … answer is simple, they are stupid.