I heart MySpace. It’s addicting, it’s a home base and, so far, it’s done a pretty good job of keeping close to its grassroots bent. So what if founder Tom Anderson recently walked off with a sweet $580 million from News Corp? It’s not like Rupert Murdoch is on MySpace acting like Big Brother and stopping us youngsters from chatting about our youngster stuff, right? But RupeDog isn’t the only one who has taken note of the fact that the juicy 30+ million members fall squarely into the youth market. MySpace may very well be Generation Y’s mecca, but it’s also a marketer’s wildest dream.
Many folks who are looking to market their wares have already caught on to that idea— particularly those in the music industry. Bands like indie rock outfit Gold Streets, who have loads of ambition but not a lot of cash on hand for promotional purposes, use this free and easy space to market themselves, and apparently really benefit from the word-of-mouth buzz a MySpace profile can create. As the band’s bass player, Gizella Otterson, puts it, “With MySpace you can reach people where no connection was immediately obvious,” she says. “It’s very convenient for presenting the entire package because most people are very open to clicking on a link to check out a band, and it takes two seconds.”
But what you hear less about when it comes to marketing here is the fact that it’s not just companies with smaller sized budgets that are looking to take advantage of the social power of MySpace. Now, companies like Nike and Panasonic—and (of course) Fox’s TV shows and DVD releases—are not only advertising on the site with standard banners, but are also creating their own MySpace profiles to market their youth-targeted products.
Check it out: If you visit the MySpace home page these days, right in the center of the page there’s box labeled “Featured Profiles.” If you look closely, you realize that those profiles are not yours or mine: they are Nike’s or Panasonic’s, or even Fox’s recently canceled “Kitchen Confidential.” Click-through and you will view a profile that contains the youth-targeted campaign of that company, flush with interactive features like forums and videos, and which further connect you to product sites where you can make a purchase.
Sienna Farris of Renegade Marketing Group, who works as Panasonic Oxyride’s Media Supervisor, gave me the scoop on how their deal with MySpace operates. According to Farris (and predictably) this is no free profile account: “Panasonic’s appearance in the ‘Featured Profile’ section is part of an advertising buy,” she says. “In addition to purchasing the profile page, we bought banners that drove the profile and the Oxyride site and Eyeblasters.” Farris wouldn’t go into detail about specific costs (nor did we receive any calls back from Tom and his comrades over at MySpace with further details), but suffice it to say that somebody’s making a pretty penny off these deals.