Caroline pourteyron
Digital Trends 2017
9th December 2016
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Interview with Lucien Rawden


This month we chat to Lucien Rawden, Director at ZA Celebrity Worx, owners of, the go-to-place for South African entertainment news and gossip. The site offers a mix of breaking entertainment news and in-depth coverage on television, movies, music, celebrities, fashion, beauty and lifestyle, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, and behind-the-scenes photographic reporting. He kindly shares some insights into what it takes to run a successful news site like

Describe yourself in 3 words

Passionate, patient, honest

How was born?

Zalebs began life as a channel within the South African Howzit MSN portal and due to its popularity Kagiso Digital decided to spin it out as an individual web property in 2011. Since then Zalebs has gone from strength to strength and under the newly formed ZA Celebrity Worx we look forward to another rebirth in 2017.

What makes it different from other celebrity news/gossip sites?

What makes ZAlebs different from other celebrity news sites is that it’s the only independent entertainment/celebrity news site that focuses on entertainment, others are considered as blogs. ZAlebs is also a trustworthy platform that does not slander celebrities or spread entertainment news that will defame a celebrity’s name. Should a scandal break, we usually wait for the celebrity to confirm. Celebrities fairly warm up to the platform depending on how open they are to the media.

What are the key ingredients to a successful content strategy?

Understand your audience and give them the content that they want in the way that they want it. In practice that means trying to develop profiles of the people in your audience and making sure that you have content producers that either really get your audience or at the very least truly understand them. Treat your online and social channels as interrelated but different producing content appropriate to each (remembering that your audience may be different on each). And it goes without saying that you need to love analytics otherwise you’re not really doing any of the above J

How do you work with performance-based affiliate marketing?

We currently use AdMarula as a way to monetize our unused display inventory. In future, we hope to take an approach that is far more integrated into our content. In other words, we’d like to produce content appropriate to our audience that helps an advertiser achieve its goals through relevant referrals.

What businesses do you think are most likely to benefit from an affiliate program?

I think that any e-commerce business would benefit from an affiliate program but particularly those that depend on the opinions of publishers or bloggers. For example, if I had an online fashion store (particularly if it’s quite niche) I’d expect to have an affiliate program in the hands of anyone that wrote about my products.

Any advice for aspiring bloggers/online news writers?

I’ve said it already but make sure you know who your audience is and how you are writing for them. It sounds obvious but I often come across examples where these questions haven’t been honestly addressed. And if you’re a blogger try SquareSpace.

Your prediction for online media trends in 2017?

I think it’s mostly a case of more of the same…. There will be more pressure on CPM based display models as performance doesn’t measure up. This will naturally translate into lower CPM rates and more advertisers putting their budgets into performance-based marketing. I also think that native advertising will continue to grow in popularity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more businesses launched that specialize in native content or agencies hiring more writers.

This holiday you will be…

Carrying on with my other job… As a new dad to my one month old son.

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