MySpace Ads Boost Fox Interactive Media’s Top Line

News Corp. executives offered a rosy picture of the financial performance of Fox Interactive Media (FIM), the global behemoth’s digital division that includes MySpace, even though FIM’s net income declined for the quarter ended June 30.

News Corp. includes FIM in a segment titled “other.” In its financial statement, the company said the segment had operating income of $69 million for the fourth quarter ended June 30. Although that figure is $86 million more than was reported for the fourth quarter of 2007, it includes $126 million garnered from a real-estate deal.

News Corp. said costs associated to run FIM increased during the quarter due to n-house expenditures for Web site improvements and features development.

News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said MySpace enjoyed “dramatic increases” in advertising sales during the quarter, particularly in branded display ads. Search was also touted as doing well.

News Corp. executives said FIM’s hypertargeting initiative, where ads are targeted based on information found in individual MySpace pages, is gaining traction.

And they said an increasing number of big-name advertisers are buying MySpace homepage “takeover” ad units because they are finding them to be powerful promotional tools.

According to the News Corp. executives, the average MySpace user spent up to 54 percent more time on the MySpace homepage during the quarter as compared to the same period last year.

The comments came during a conference call where News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and other executives announced record full-year operating income for News Corp. of $5 billion, a figure that represents growth of 21 percent over fiscal year 2007.

According to News Corp. financial statements, the yearly operating income growth was led by strong growth in the company’s film entertainment, television, cable network programming and direct broadcast satellite segments.

During the conference call, Murdoch and Chernin made it clear they are not discussing acquisition with any other Internet companies, including Yahoo and AOL. “We’ve already moved on from those discussions,” Murdoch said.

The media mogul also pointed to rapid growth at WSJ.com, the Web site of “The Wall Street Journal.” He said the audience at WSJ.com increased nearly 88 percent in the six months ended in June and growth continued in July. Murdoch said Dow Jones is developing a new information delivery platform that will allow it “to target customers far beyond traditional” clients.

“We are fortunate to have an international network that allows us to launch products across borders and across platforms,” he said.

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