opinion

100 Million Members

Stephen Yagielowicz
Sometime later this week, online social networking community, MySpace.com, will signup its 100 millionth user account. The fourth most popular website on the Internet, its latest incarnation was launched in July of 2003, making the staggering growth of the site in only three years nothing short of amazing.

Known primarily as a “teen socializing” site, it has made the news on many occasions, including in July, 2005, when News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch paid $580 million for the website. Although many seemed doubtful that this would be a profitable purchase, a recent $900 million dollar deal with Google has almost doubled Murdoch’s return on this strategic investment.

America’s most popular website in July, 2006, MySpace received 4.5 percent of all web traffic, or approximately 45 million unique visitors. As for the site’s stickiness, users now spend an average of two hours per session at the site; blogging, posting profiles, photos, videos and MP3s, while chatting and emailing amongst themselves. A part of modern pop culture, MySpace is simply the “cool” place to be for a vast segment of surfers.

As compelling for its users as the property may be, it’s still hard to fathom the numbers; 100 million is a lot of users and given the financials, Murdoch and friends seem to be betting that each and every one of these users will be worth at least $10. Add in the high overhead of an operation with 300 employees and the math doesn’t seem to make sense.

What does make sense is the portal’s appeal to the adult entertainment industry. With such a broad user base, many of whom are adults; careful approaches that protect minors from exposure to sexually explicit materials might prove quite profitable, especially for marketing solo-girl and other “personality-based” sites.

It’s also important to consider that if you wish to pursue social networking site marketing that MySpace isn’t the only player in the market; as of last month, Hitwise reported that upstart site YouTube.com had surpassed MySpace as the most visited social networking site.

Webmasters would be wise to check these sites out; learn what makes them so appealing, as well as so “sticky” – and incorporate as many of these factors into their own properties as possible. You might find that it’s time for a new approach – and a new space…

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