CNN's Alberto Padilla Prods Shawn Gold of MySpace


CNN's Alberto Padilla interviews Shawn Gold of MySpace! I braced myself for the inevitable ripped-off feeling as, having started 15 minutes late, they wasted another 15 minutes playing getting-to-know-you on session time. What a jam-packed half-hour it was that awaited me.

(If you're wondering what the image is at left, it's Gold's current MySpace profile picture.)

Requisite stats:

- MySpace boasts 200 million profiles, 350K new members/day, 110 million uniques/month
- American MySpace hits 60 percent of 18-24 year-olds, 25 percent of 15-25 year-olds and 36 percent of people 35 and older
- The demo of older members on MySpace is increasing. And while younger users tend to seek buddies or the casual hook-up, a housewife, for example, is looking for relationship maintenance among family members.
- For older Spanish users, a market MySpace is increasingly trying to target, efficiency is more important than the more youthful lust for egocasting.

Gold described MySpace's birth as an improvement on Friendster, which had a few holes in its model. Social networking, he explained, is all about identification and individuality, and Friendster had very specific ideas about how individuality in particular should be conducted.

Friendster kicked people off that had too many friends (like Tila Tequila), fake profiles (dogs, celebs, etc), and bands. MySpace saw this and created a space for bands and other cultural influencers (like Tila) to freely push their agendas - a dangerous proposition at first glance, but clearly a winning model.

In MySpace's view, every "artist" is a small business.

90 of top 100 global advertisers appear on the site - understandably so, considering Gold himself notes that few databases have its living stock of hopes, fears and dreams.

MySpace hopes to begin leveraging its self-segmenting userbase with the introduction of psychographic research for advertisers. And in the fall, advertisers will be able to implement micro-advertising - targeting by zip code, for example.

Other means MySpace has of monetizing its site:

- MySpace Mobile on Cingular: 2.99/month, most rapidly-adopted app on Cingular.

- Google pays them a monthly figure to monetize its search engine.

- Bands can use SnoCap, where they can sell songs directly to fans.

Functionalities for pushing tickets and merch will be included over time.

When Padilla asked whether it's a bad thing that people associate MySpace with Fox, as opposed to parent company News Corp, Gold awkwardly explained that MySpace is an "open space," with more liberal inclinations (can you feel the eggshells cracking here?) while Fox is generally "perceived" as more conservative.

"I'm going to put this on CNN!" Padilla cried with glee. I decided then that Padilla rocked my socks.

When asked how News Corp actually uses MySpace, Gold was evasive: "MySpace is the model for the future of communications over the Internet protocol." He then elaborated upon how News Corp stock jumped significantly post-acquisition.

When asked what his plans are for Spanish-speaking Americans, Gold reiterated that they're targeting an older demographic. "As I said, 48 percent of ppl use it to communicate with their own family," he pointed out.

The only major difference between Latin-targeting MySpace efforts and standard MySpace is content, which will be largely local: local bands, local artists, local culture for each community. The beauty: people can tap into global culture at the same time.

MySpace for non-English-speaking communities is populated by people natively familiar with the demo.

"I used to think 'quesadilla' means 'what's the deal,' so you don't want me programming," Gold quipped.

Finally, Gold looks to the future. He notes sites like Friendster and Geocities failed because they did not evolve when the time called for it. MySpace has no intention of making that mistake. The future, he says, is probably VOIP and video - the trick is to grow right along with the communication toolset.

by Angela Natividad    Jun-28-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events   

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