This week the COO of Myspace’s parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, gave the social networking site the ultimatum that frankly, I’m surprised didn’t come years ago. Shape up within the next few months or we’re pulling the plug.
A Myspace profile is like an embarrassing teenage fashion phase; we all had one, we’re all mortified when we’re reminded of it and indie bands can usually get away with still having one. And so, while Myspace is dying and being read its last rites, we look back with nostalgia at what ultimately brought down the glittery precursor to the modern social networking phenomenon.
While I haven’t been active on the site for quite some time now, when I look back on my Myspace heyday, the distinct memory I have of the advertising is that it was generally completely irrelevant drivel.
Competitors like Facebook have managed to utilise behavioural and contextual targeting far more effectively, (although less so in South Africa where many marketing departments are generally still struggling to grasp the obvious benefits of online advertising) and so users are shown ads that are, as much as technology allows, relevant to them.
As much as the Facebook demographic is largely understood to be an older, more affluent group of people, Myspace is clearly the social network for teenagers and emos. So much so that anyone over the age of 16 on Myspace is treated with the mistrust usually only afforded to bearded men who sit in windowless vans outside schools.
At a recent social media panel discussion, Julia Gorzka, marketing strategist and founder of Brand Tampa said that she had recently overheard someone saying that Myspace was a site for “pedophiles and bands”. Certainly not the ideal reputation for a company to have.
While weilding infinite control over your online profile’s appearance might sound like a brilliant idea at first, the reality of the situation was far, far different. Myspace offered the creatively challenged majority of us the opportunity to tweak our profile HTML to create any number of original ideas.
The result categorically demonstrated why professional designers charge so much. The site wound up being the place to be if you enjoyed expressing your innermost feelings through the power of obnoxious, epilepsy-inducing images, garish sparkling fonts and obscure music.
At best, the majority of of Myspace profiles were offensive to the discerning eye. At worst, the poorly coded and bloated pages were an absolute nightmare to surf, crashing browsers and destroying any chance of enjoying the user experience of the site.
Myspace has floundered in the face of stiff competition. Jonathan Miller, who oversees News Corp’s internet businesses, recently admitted that Myspace had stopped innovating at a time when they had the most momentum.
While it once enjoyed posterchild status amongst the Web 2.0 revolution, its efforts to keep up with its competitors became increasingly desperate. Facebook has an integrated instant message service? Let’s get right on that! Youtube is a big hit right now? Let’s pump money into Myspace video! People are using Twitter to microblog? Let’s work in a slightly less functional version of that exact feaure into our site! Before long, virtually every “innovation” on the site seemed like a poor imitation of other social media features that were being implemented far more effectively elsewhere.
Pathetically, at a time when online video was exploding in popularity around the world, the Myspace video social network actually managed to lose viewers.
Michael Arrington, co-editor of TechCrunch, wrote over a year ago: “What was a bad situation in November 2008 is starting to turn outright ugly – Facebook is now well over twice the size of MySpace … It was less than a year ago that MySpace and Facebook were the same size.”
Myspace recently unveiled a new approach and a brand new, redesigned logo, admitting that they are no longer even consider Facebook a competitor. Instead they will rebrand themselves as a “social entertainment” platform, finally conceding to the fact that the only legitimate use for the site these days is to discover and listen to new bands.
What would a list about why people evacuated, about why Myspace is dead be without a mention of spam? Trawling around Myspace these days is like going to a trade show where every band in the world is playing their music at the same time, every marketer is trying to sell you their product and the venue is packed to capacity with screaming children. I challenge you to find a single comment on any of the millions of profile pages that isn’t self-promoting baloney. That’s right. I said baloney.
Anyone who doesn’t still wake up in the middle of the night, shackled by the memories of the volume spam that Myspace barfed up is clearly a robot. With virtually no effective measures in place to curb the meteoric rise in spam, Myspace became a cesspool. With hundreds of thousands of bands, artists and companies vying for your attention and the phrase that still ruins my vibe, “Thanks for the add”, it was always going to be the biggest driving force behind the exodus.
Graph compiled by Arbor Networks
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