Brief thoughts on MySpace

This has taken longer to write than I would have liked since TalkTalk Business still has me living the analogue lifestyle at home. I wanted to put finger to keyboard because much of the coverage around MySpace acquistion focused on:

  • The difference between what News Corporation paid for the social network and what it then sold the assets for
  • The decline in MySpace as a social network, the sale was another milestone for the MySpace story to be repeated

There was less attention paid to the Specific Media side of the story and what would they be likely to do? It’s probably easier filter this out by what they won’t do.

  • Revitalise MySpace as a social network. That dog won’t hunt: like a restaurant that is no longer fashionable or a nightclub that has lost its buzz – lightning won’t strike twice. You would be better off starting again, simply because you could get rid of a lot negative brand perceptions, rather than trying to get people to come back. This is pretty much the same fate for ideas around going back to being a music-marketing brand
  • Change the game. This is the path that Friendster is taking with its new Malaysian owners, who are keeping customers network login in details and their social graph, but positioning the site towards social gaming. Existing social network members had the opportunity to download photographs and other details from their soon to disappear profiles. MySpace could try that but it would need some social gaming content like Farmville…

Do nothing but monetise it. I personally think that this is the most attractive option. At the time of writing this post, Demand Media has a market value of about 1.1 billion US dollars. But it has that valuation based on the growth potential in its content factory model, one which according to Business Insider isn’t making sufficient money. What MySpace allows Specific Media to do is flip the Demand Media model on its head.

It is primarily a sale of people’s content to which advertising can be put against. Consumers generally leave MySpace profiles dormant. Drop them an email, talk about new features and at the bottom of it an opt-out option to make their blog posts public and ‘Hey presto’ instant content farm.

What people didn’t realise about MySpace was that it wasn’t only music marketing and Tila Tequila pictures, but professional content from the likes of the CIPD and soccer mom’s photo albums. So there is a diverse range of material to be monetised. Well worth the 35 million US dollars that Specific Media has paid out for the moribund social network.

Sure it’s cheap advertising, but it could be put against relevant content and it wouldn’t even have to split the profits with the content providers in the way Google has to.