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Media Morph: LOL Cats

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: LOL Cats
LOL Cats are making some decent scratch.
LOL Cats are making some decent scratch.

OH HAI! WHAT R I: There's a simple formula to LOL Cats, or cat macros as they're also called. Take one photo of cute feline, often in a funny situation, and one ungrammatical caption, taking special care to ensure some misspellings and avoid subject-verb agreement at all costs. The classic example is "I Can Has Cheezburger," the name of the most popular LOL Cat site. Other well-trafficked sites in the genre include LolCats.com and MacroCats.com.

HOW IS MAH FAMOUSNESS: All of those sites are trending up -- way up, per Alexa. ICanHasCheezburger's Adbrite page claims more than 280,000 page views and 67,000 unique visitors a day. Last month, in an interview with BusinessWeek, Eric "Cheezburger" Nakagawa claimed 500,000 page views a day from between 100,000 and 200,000 unique visitors.

I CAN HAS ADZ? Oh, you can has ads alright, LOL Cats. With millions of cuteness-glazed eyeballs scanning these sites, advertisers have been sure to jump on board. Mr. Nakagawa has said he gets between $500 and $4,000 for weeklong placements on the site. But the advertisers are not just consumer brands. Last week, the premium spot was held by an ad critical of Wendy's for its animal-treatment record.

Y R I IN YR HEDZ: No one really knows. Despite a fair amount of media hype around LOL Cats, including a piece in Time Magazine, there are no good explanations outside the simple fact that many pics are excruciatingly adorable and thus work well as time-wasters. Plus, there's a universal appeal -- that's gold in the internet's fragmented hills. Wrote Time's Lev Grossman, "The great, weird internet meme, which once thundered across the net in vast herds, is becoming surprisingly scarce, which may be why LOL Cats has a distinctly old-school, early 1990s, Usenet feel to it."

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