MySpace, the onetime king of social networking, that’s been fighting to stay relevant in the age of Facebook and Twitter, announced today a new brand, website and a suite of products that together redefine the company as a social entertainment destination for Gen Y.
Myspace is creating a rich, highly personalized experience for people to discover content and connect with other fans who share similar interests. Everything has been changed: right down to the logo – which is now the word ‘My’ and an extended underscore to represent the ‘Space’.
The bracket in the logo represents a space where people can express themselves, enabling users to personalize the logo and make it their own – just as they can throughout Myspace.
The social-networking pioneer, which was among the top Internet sites just a few years ago, now has its sights set decidedly lower. Starting today and over the next month, MySpace will be relaunching its site to focus on giving users more ways to consume music, videos and celebrity gossip.
Entertainment has long been central to the MySpace experience, but over the years the site was also pulled in different directions as it dabbled in classifieds, job ads and even user reviews in a partnership with Citysearch as it pushed to become a social portal for the Web. It didn’t work out, and Facebook is now emerging as that portal.
“Over time, Myspace got very broad and lost focus of what its members where using it for,” Michael Jones, the president of Myspace, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, said in an interview. “This marks the beginning of an exciting turning point for MySpace.”
He continued: “Our new strategy expands on MySpace’s existing strengths – a deep understanding of social, a wealth of entertainment content and the ability to surface emerging cultural trends in real-time through our users. This is the just the first step, and there will be many more features, programs and improvements to come.”
News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005. For some perspective, that’s the same year YouTube launched. After a promising start, the site’s luster began to fade and advertisers, along with users, flocked to Facebook.
EMarketer, a research firm, estimates that advertisers worldwide will spend about $347 million on MySpace this year, down from $470 million in 2009. The research firm estimates 2010 ad spending on Facebook to be around $1.3 billion, more than double $665 million a year earlier.
If the relaunch is successful, MySpace may still become the cultural powerhouse MTV was in the 1990s, when its decision to play a new music video could turn a band’s fortunes overnight.
Keeping with the age of the social Web, however, MySpace won’t be the only one deciding what’s cool. The site will also make its most loyal users the curators in a feature that’s coming at a yet-unspecified date.
Long criticized for cluttered, clunky home pages, MySpace is streamlining its new design. It will show fewer ads, but place them more prominently. It also will have far fewer buttons and page templates. In a presentation, the company called it “cleaning up MySpace e-waste.”
MySpace has long fallen behind Facebook in user numbers and estimated advertising revenue, in part because it never appealed to older users. Its roughly 130 million users are mostly under 35, while Facebook’s fastest-growing user base is those over 35.
MySpace now says it’s not trying to compete with social networks like Facebook. “We’re working on refocusing the company (and) narrowing down what our product does,” Jones said.
Michael Jones is the last of a three-person executive team that joined the company in April 2009. His former co-president Jason Hirschhorn, left in June and former CEO Owen Van Natta, once chief revenue officer of Facebook, left in February. [MySpace via Huffington Post, Daily Telegraph (UK) and NY Times]