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Is MySpace an Advertiser Space?

  |  July 25, 2006   |  Comments

The opportunities, and pitfalls, of advertising on the fast-growing social network.

Everyone's talking about MySpace.com; its phenomenal explosion in traffic, the crazy media exposure it's been getting, and the site's relevance in pop culture. What a lot of people don't know is how MySpace can fit into current media plans and marketing mixes.

MySpace is a lifestyle destination that gives users the tools to interact in the ways they want to. Users set up profiles, then connect with friends and other people of like interests. Everyone interacts based on things they're passionate about: music, film, TV, games, fashion, and so forth.

Today, MySpace has 94 million registered users. Their primary demographic is about a 50/50 split between males and females, ages 16 to 34. However, a common misconception is that MySpace is primarily made up of kids and teens. In fact, 80 percent of the audience is above 18. MySpace's 30-plus demographic is its fastest-growing group.

According to Hitwise, MySpace had the highest number of unique U.S. visitors in July, outranking even Yahoo and Google. What we have is a new site that's very quickly positioned itself to effectively compete against the Internet's biggest properties. In part because that growth has happened so quickly, people have been wondering how they can capitalize on the audience.

I recently spoke with Matt Rochios, senior territory manager for MySpace, about the advertising opportunities available at the site.

Standard Media Opportunities

As you might imagine, you can do a pretty standard buy on MySpace. It has lots of information on its audience's demographics and interests. You can buy banners, leaderboards, interstitials, and the like. Of course, it offers rich media opportunities as well.

Branded Profiles

The more interesting opportunity is to create a branded profile. Essentially, you can set up a page for a brand with all the same features as individual profiles and more. By doing this, you create a mini-social network in which users interact with the brand just as they would with other profiles. MySpace's standard branded page functionality includes product information, videos, wallpaper, a friends' network, forums, comments, and more. Additional functionality includes sweepstakes, voting, quizzes, and user-submitted content.

Custom Promotion

In addition, MySpace will put together custom promotional packages to help drive traffic to the branded profile. These can include things like home page roadblocks and custom games.

One recent example of this deal was the "X-Men 3" promotion. The goals of the campaign were to really tap into the MySpace experience and encourage interaction with the movie characters. The movie's backers also wanted to empower fans to become evangelists for the film. Of course, they also wanted to stimulate interest and drive ticket sales.

MySpace set up a custom profile and promoted it with home page roadblocks on two days. It had other supporting media across the site, as well as premium placements in high-traffic areas of the network.

As a result, they connected with over 3 million MySpace friends and had over 7,400 user postings on the "X-Men 3" profile page. Having 3 million people wanting to connect with this profile and interact with the X-Men brand is pretty compelling. I'm sure there were plenty of other promotions for the movie. Yet I think it's safe to say this effort contributed to a successful theater opening of $122 million.

Here are a few other examples of MySpace advertising opportunities in action:

Advertiser Concerns

Plenty of advertisers are concerned about safety and objectionable content on MySpace. The site is taking lots of measures to keep people, specifically kids, safe. It has hired a safety czar, is working with 24,000 volunteers who monitor content, is putting additional privacy tools in place, has enacted systems to put restrictions on the ability of adults to contact children, and has algorithms, image-scanning tools, and education programs, all part of an effort to make MySpace a safer place for users to gather (and for us to advertise on).

To be fair, there's still plenty of objectionable content on MySpace. When advertisers set up a branded profile, MySpace will work with them to filter the pages as desired. And in targeting the ad inventory, the site can also custom filter to some extent (setting up filters for age, interest, etc.). The challenge is people update content and images on MySpace pages daily. Filtering isn't always foolproof.

The reality is if you want to consider some kind of presence on MySpace for your brand, you're going to have to be pretty open-minded.

You should at least consider MySpace. It's not for every client. But it does provide some great opportunities to connect with audiences in a unique way.

What about you? Have you worked with MySpace? Or tried to? What was the client's reaction when you brought it up? What were your results? If you have a MySpace story, I'd love to hear about it.

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Pete Lerma Pete Lerma began his advertising career in the traditional side of the business, where he spent six years managing accounts for clients such as Coca-Cola and Subway. He then realized interactive marketing was where it's at and, in 1998, joined Click Here, The Richards Group's interactive marketing division. During his tenure at Click Here, he's forged relationships with major online publishers, networks and technology companies, and these relationships contribute to his perspective on the interactive marketing industry. As Click Here's principal, Pete oversees accounts for high profile brands including Atlantis, Hyundai, Travelocity, and Zales. His group has won numerous awards for their strategic and creative work, including recognition from the IAB, Ad:Tech, The One Club, Graphis, and Communication Arts. Pete serves on the board of directors for the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association and also contributes to the marketing blog ChaosScenario.

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