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MySpace: Facts and Figures

We're now starting the second and last day of the Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress here in Sydney, and I'm speaking about the impact of online media on broadcasting around noon. We begin with Andrew Cordwell, Director of Sales at Fox Interactive Media, though, which runs sites such as MySpace, IGN, Rotten Tomatoes and Ask Men. Globally, there are 122 million users on MySpace, with 300,000 new sign-ups per day and some 8 million users online at any one time.

The site is not populated only by young users; 74% of users are above 18 years. There were around 1 million 18-24 year-olds, 500,000 between 24 and 34, 264,000 between 35 and 49, and 120,000 50+ users during June. Andrew also slices these numbers according to life stages: there were 270,000 mothers (and he highlights mothers blogging about being mothers as one particularly interesting group here), 568,000 school students, 284,000 university students, 78,000 silver surfers during the same time. Rush hours for use are between 4 and 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and consumption of video plays a big part here now. MySpace has actively pursued video providers (commercial as well as public service) to populate the site with attractive content.

The key uses made of this site which Fox Interactive has identified include fashion, film, music, TV, social issues, gaming, and men's lifestyle - and MySpace has aimed to provide content especially to support these uses. For example, it runs a number of preview schemes for music, movies, and games. (Additionally, following the U.S. lead, the site will launch a new music player in the Australia/New Zealand region next year which will enable users to pay to download tracks as well as store them directly on the site, for access through MySpace from anywhere.)

Andrew notes that brands can connect more credibly using MySpace. They move away from a brand -> PR -> media -> audience chain, and towards an interconnected network between brands, media, social media, and users. (One example Andrew notes is how MySpace managed to successfully build a community around Zovirax cold sore cream - by no means an attractively marketable product using conventional means.) The key to this is allowing brands to go viral on MySpace. The average person on MySpace has 150 friends, and what users acting as viral marketers do is to pass on brand messages to around 10 of these, who will then forward these messages further to another 10 friends or so. There are different types of social networkers, though: essentialists, scene breakers, entrepreneurs, transumers (focussing mainly on content and things, not on friends), connectors (key in passing on links), and collaborators (actively produsing content).

Marketers engage with them through Fox Interactive, which provides a number of services. These include on-screen display media acting as advertising, branded and video content made specifically for the MySpace site (e.g. around promotional content), brand communities, sponsorships (where new products are made available to lead users to promote the products), technology (with new on-site applications being developed, especially also for mobile uses - there is a prediction that 50% of MySpace use will be online in the near future), and offline events (which generate online buzz both before and after the event).

Social networking is here to stay, then, Andrew says; 50% of all Australians already have profiles, and most of the non-users are likely to sign up soon. There are figures from the UK which suggest that if 18-24 have 15 minutes to spare, their first impulse is to spend them on their social media profiles rather than watch TV or listen to music.

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