When rumors first circulated about Specific Media’s plans to not only purchase MySpace but also enlist the help of Justin Timberlake, I couldn’t help but question, “Which of The Onion’s authors broke this story?” Then, as I learned more about the story’s validity, my focus shifted toward why this deal was done and what the future holds.
A few motives came to mind to explain the acquisition (some already covered elsewhere):
- Marketing value of the MySpace brand name
- The need to drive value leading up to a liquidity event
- Acquiring valuable data from 70 million registered users
- Adding owned and operated media inventory to the company’s portfolio
According to coverage on the deal, Specific plans to enter the media space by reviving MySpace to its former glory as a destination for artists. Previously the site focused on music – in the future, various artist-types including those that produce movies will apparently flock to MySpace. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. However, I cannot help but wonder how an ad company without previous experience owning media will succeed where News Corporation, with nearly limitless resources (comparatively) failed.
Then there’s the involvement of Justin Timberlake, which I think is an interesting move. Timberlake has created and recreated his personal brand successfully many times over. To appoint him as the leader to drive creative direction and assure MySpace is the destination for artists certainly seems to make sense.
All of this is fine and good – and quite interesting. However, I can’t help but wonder if this is the first step of an advertising company aspiring to be a media company, or just a distraction for both. One of the reasons that ad networks bring more value to advertisers is that they remain neutral to the users and media within the network. Gathering user data from audited third-parties provides another valuable layer. Can removing these layers benefit the advertiser? Because losing sight of their audience’s goals would definitely dilute the value of Specific. And we’ve already seen what can happen to a company without that focus. It’s called MySpace.