MySpace Plans Makeover

Tod Hunter
LOS ANGELES — Social-networking website MySpace is launching a redesign of its website and tech functions next week.

The redesign includes modifications to navigation, user-profile editing, search applications and the MySpaceTV video player. The changes, the first overhaul of the entire site since MySpace launched in January 2004, also increase the advertising opportunities throughout the site.

The redesigned site launches Wednesday. MySpace said a single advertiser will "take over" the home page on Wednesday, and the rest of the redesign and new elements start on Thursday.

The makeover has been under construction for more than six months and was guided by focus groups, user surveys and other research on what consumers and advertisers want from MySpace. The goal is to make MySpace's tools for navigation, search and profile editing more intuitive and user-friendly for all users, particularly those who are less tech-savvy.

The MySpaceTV player will include features that will make it easier for MySpace members to embed and share videos and recommend videos to other members. A new feature will highlight the most-viewed vides throughout the MySpace site.

Adult industry publicist Alex "Monstar" Raymond of The Star Factory told XBIZ that he encourages his clients to use MySpace pages to promote themselves, but not in explicit ways.

"I encourage them to strengthen their fan base by being more proactive about getting the fans involved with their day-to-day lives," Raymond said. "Fans can pick up a DVD and see them being hot and sexy doing their scenes. Their MySpace is where they can be themselves, like Gianna Lynn going to the Kwik-E-Mart or talking about going to the Spice Girls concert. It's fun stuff that gives fans a look at who they really are. You aren't going to see that on a DVD. It really humanizes them beyond the sexual fantasy.

"They never really promote themselves as porn," Raymond said. "Like what I'm doing for 'Operation Tropical Stormy': I'm not portraying it as a porn movie, but a big action comedy that happens to be adult as well."

Raymond's performers never link to their adult websites from their MySpace pages. "We're very cognizant of keeping away from any explicit material, or anything that will violate MySpace's terms of service."

To keep underage MySpace users away, Raymond recommends that his clients block them out.

"There is a setting where people won't be contacted by people under 18. I make sure all my girls go through and check that box. Even though we don't cross any lines, it's just a pre-emptive measure. As soon as you're 18, you can rock to Stormy Daniels all you want."