News Corp. COO Peter Chernin told Wall Street investors yesterday that social network MySpace is selling ads "above where we expected" and better than the rest of the marketplace. Which is funny, because a Madison Avenue's interactive ad agency exec was just telling me the other day that "you buy MySpace only if you have to. If there's an alternative, go for it." There are three reasons why.
- Though MySpace has worked hard to improve its overall site design, its been plagued by spam-happy advertisers and banner-ad schemesters from its very beginning. Because of that and the site's junky-looking past (and we think present), MySpace remains a "tarnished" brand. Brand managers don't want to soil their own through association.
- Ad buyers tend to buy ads from people they know. MySpace's ad sales force has had a lot of turnover and its been hard to form relationships with them, says our guy.
- Though our guy doesn't use it, the people in his agency who do tell him MySpace's vaunted ad-targeting technology called "Hypertargeting" doesn't work. Sure, its good enough at telling an ad buyer who are the users who would visit the page on which the ad would appear, but it doesn't help to make sure the ad fits within the page's context. "Are [users] seeing the ad? Or are they trained to ignore it?" Also, our guy has some branding advice for MySpace. Get rid of the "hyper" in "hypertargeting." Like as if it were called Xtreme Targeting, the "hyper" makes it sound like News Corp is trying to dress up the technology as more than it is. Which, of course, it probably is.