Does MySpace Have Any Distribution Juice Left for Publishers?

Social Network Still Gets Traffic (Especially on Throwback Thursdays)

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Complex Media's page on MySpace.
Complex Media's page on MySpace. Credit: MySpace

These days, MySpace, the dominant social media network before being upstaged by Facebook, is valuable mostly for its data. MySpace still has a billion registered users around the world, and the data on those users is a hot commodity. But there's also a little more consumer activity left on the platform than many people might think.

Last month Time Inc. bought MySpace owner Viant in a move to, Time Inc. said, better target ads to audiences, tie consumers' devices to the actual people and link ad spending with actual sales.

Viant Chief Operating Officer Chris Vanderhook said Time Inc. was looking for a platform to "activate" the company's extensive database of information about magazine subscribers.

"They want to be able to unlock that data for marketers, to be able to target addressable advertising," he said in an interview at Time Inc. headquarters. And that's where Viant comes in. "There are very few platforms that they could have gone to to activate on that data," he said.

While Viant's addressability technology and programmatic capabilities may have been the centerpiece of the deal, however, Time Inc. actually is getting a platform that might still have some potential as a distributor of content ... even if it's not going to make a run at Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.

Over the last few years, very little media industry attention has been paid to MySpace, but the company does have a "partnership strategy" and works with publishers like Complex Media to host and distribute content that's relevant to MySpace's millennial-focused audience.

MySpace, according to Mr. Vanderhook, gets 15 million monthly unique global visitors. In the U.S., MySpace brought in 5.5 million multiplatform uniques last month, according to ComScore data. So, it's not a social powerhouse anymore, but it's still alive and kicking.

Time Inc.'s Time magazine, by comparison, attracted 22.7 million U.S. multiplatform unique visitors in March, ComScore said.

For better or worse, Thursdays are MySpace's biggest source of traffic, as users come back to the platform to dig up old photographs to post as part of "Throwback Thursdays" on social media. Email newsletters are also a huge engagement tool for MySpace, which still has a hefty bank of addresses to send to, even if some of them might bounce.

Mr. Vanderhook said there are some potential synergies between Time Inc. and MySpace, content-wise, and that "there's potential" for Time Inc.-produced content to get a distribution boost on the social network.

But, he cautioned that "there's nothing set in stone," and said Time Inc. doesn't have a U.S.-based brand that perfectly fits MySpace's core emphasis on youth culture, entertainment and music.

Tim Vanderhook, brother of Chris and CEO of Viant, when asked about the "synergies" mentioned, said: "Certainly more content distributed through MySpace increases the competitiveness of that platform. But there's nothing set in stone yet of, 'Hey, it's mandated that we're going to take all Time Inc. content and distribute it.' Because it's not just about Time Inc. It's about all content and being able to create a personalized feed to a consumer. That's really where MySpace has to get to. What we've been consistently building on. And that takes lots of content relations to be able to come through."

He suggested that MySpace is in a good place, though both brothers agreed that the Time Inc. deal, and the resources that came with it, will be good for the platform. The question is whether more publishers will start cooking up a "MySpace strategy."

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