News Corp has sold MySpace to Specific Media, a comScore top-10 ad network whose offerings to advertisers include display and video ads, as well as custom branded programming.
The deal, worth from $30 to $40 million according to The Wall Street Journal, will provide Specific Media with a still-large pool of inventory and reams of user data it can use to target ad buys. That inventory will complement Specific's already huge U.S. audience of 180 million unique users, as estimated by comScore.
MySpace also has an in-house team developing custom creative and conducting eye-tracking research and other biometric studies on behalf of advertisers. Post-acquisition, these services could match up nicely with Specific's branded content division, which has created media for clients such as Bubblicious, Coca-Cola, and Kraft.
However extensive layoffs are expected at MySpace, and its not clear how much of the company's ad solutions division will remain intact after the deal goes through.
News Corp and Specific Media would say little this afternoon beyond confirming the deal. They did note News Corp will retain a minority stake in MySpace, but didn't disclose what percentage of the business that stake represents.
“Myspace is a recognized leader that has pioneered the social media space. The company has transformed the ways in which audiences discover, consume and engage with content online,” said Tim Vanderhook, Specific Media CEO, in a statement. “There are many synergies between our companies as we are both focused on enhancing digital media experiences by fueling connections with relevance and interest. We look forward to combining our platforms to drive the next generation of digital innovation.”
In a surprising facet of the deal, Specific Media said Justin Timberlake will take an ownership stake and help oversee the site's creative direction and strategy. He said, "I’m excited to help revitalize Myspace by using its social media platform to bring artists and fans together in one community."
For MySpace, the transaction marks an ignoble end to a long period of decline under News Corp management. In addition to the slight of being sold to an ad network (versus a media or technology company), the estimated sale price was approximately $70 million less than Murdoch and company reportedly hoped to get.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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