Monday, April 16, 2007

MySpace – Where the Kids Are


Modern advertising says if you’re releasing a movie or launching a new TV show to saturate your audience, with a ton of TV commercials. If the movie/show’s parent studio also owns a TV station – better still. You can advertise the commodity for less on your own airwaves (e.g. 300 and Fox). But recently I’ve developed a flurry of MySpace pages for burgeoning network shows, and began to wonder about the efficacy of this new marketing avenue. With the exception of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force flick, it seems advertisers are steering away from guerilla marketing campaigns in favor of a presence on MySpace.

From a ground-level designer/advertiser perspective, the deal is you design the look of the MySpace creative as well as produce any/all of the Flash and video assets that are to reside on the page. Hand over the layered Photoshop files, Flash files and videos to MySpace with $250,000 and they put the custom page together and give you some preferential ad space.

Let’s back up the truck… a $250,000 media buy. You can argue that the ad space inside of MySpace is almost worthless, so that full media buy price is really going to just seaming the page together. For a large-scale movie release, $250k represents a small fraction of what they spend for on-air. However, for network shows that comes close to being their entire advertising budget – dumped right onto MySpace. This is like going to Vegas and laying down your entire life’s savings on the roulette table and proclaiming ‘black’… only without the ensuing ‘Vegas Wife’ that your kids refer to as such, so as not to confuse her with ‘Weekday Mommy’. The consequences are just as dramatic too. If your MySpace creative fails to capture the audience, you haven’t been able to hedge your proverbial bets advertising in any other medium. So, is it worth it? In a word, absolutely.

MySpace has roughly 80 million profiles, and it’s pretty much 1-to-1 relationship on profiles to people, so you’re talking about 80 million people in a captive environment. On TV’s best-rated program, American Idol, you’re looking at 30 million viewers. Thirty second spots on Idol are running around a million dollars per 30 seconds. Overly simplistic analysis: For one fourth the price, you’re nearly tripling your potential audience, and your presence will run a lot longer than 30 seconds (often weeks). Suddenly, it’s easier to understand why advertisers are flocking to MySpace.

Back to ground-level regional advertising… You have a client, an up-and-coming musician, a young actor, whatever. Basically, we’re talking about a client who needs the MySpace exposure, but needs something slick (not MySpace templates) and oh yeah, doesn’t have $250k. What do you do? The answer is simple. Same thing you do on any of your other projects – hire a good graphic designer to design a custom page and hire a really good programmer who can break MySpace’s layout. MySpace is built with old school HTML tables, which by definition keep content locked into little squares, which in turn keeps your pages looking like generic low-brow MySpace profiles. However, as I have discovered with a little persistence you can break free of the MySpace layout by breaking the tables. Insert false table-close arguments at the top of the page and all of a sudden you’re free to go to town with < DIV > boxes required to really make a custom look flourish... or you can hire this happy little firm to do it for you.

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