Web 2.0: Jonathan Miller on fixing MySpace

Chris Caceres · October 22, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/b60

John Battelle hosts a conversation with Johnathan Miller, CEO of Digital Media Group at News Corp.

 With traffic down and loss of direction, it's quite clear MySpace is in trouble.  Jonathan Miller who was formerly CEO of AOL, was recently brought on by News Corp, as Chief Digital Officer to address this issue and others.  The executive sat on stage with John Battelle on Thursday at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco to discuss what direction News Corp. was headed when it comes to 'paid vs free content,' and most importantly, how to fix MySpace.

"People use the word fix, I think that's the wrong way to think about it.  You have to think ahead," explained Miller.   In sum, Miller views the MySpace problem has several issues:

  • The first, traffic is significantly down, and continues to decline.  Miller did not share exact numbers, but he did say the priority is to stabilize this loss and then build it back.  MySpace is struggling to keep its head up amid the explosion of growth among competitors, Twitter and Facebook.

  • Why did MySpace fall behind?  Miller said, "It didn't keep going, it stopped."  He's referring to the fact MySpace didn't continue to innovate while competitors like Facebook and Twitter kept getting better. MySpace had its momentum and didn't use it while it had the chance.  But Miller has yet to give up, he believes the company has to work "twice as hard to get the momentum back."

  • What is MySpace's strategy to pick itself back up?  Miller said the company will focus on it's original, core essence - music and meeting new people that interest you.  So the company will return to these fundamentals and focus.  MySpace will be 'cleaning up' its service to achieve this.

  • Where does MySpace stand in the social media space?  Miller believes, at the moment, MySpace is sort of in the middle between Facebook and Twitter and it needs to declare a major.  Facebook focuses on following people you know face to face, while Twitter is all about following people you are interested in, not necessarily having to know them.  Miller views MySpace as becoming a place to follow the things you like and are interested in.  He also wants MySpace to become much more open, like Twitter.

In regards to News Corp's digital direction, Miller was able to share where the company was headed. 

  • News Corp's MySpace recently acquired iLike.  Miller said the company is interested in making more acquisitions and is looking into real-time and mobile.   He believes the US is far behind Asia in the adoption of mobile devices and Internet and soon enough there will be hundreds of competitors of the iPhone in the US.  The mobile internet will drive everything.

  • Trying to move its Fox Ad Network (FAN), up to number four among the top ad networks.  He stated FAN is currently number five, closely behind Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

  • Fixing MySpace.

  • Figuring out how to make premium/paid content on the Web work.  Miller said Fox Crop. will not simply put up a wall.  Paid content comes with valuable, worthwhile content.  He believes this will be a natural "maturation process of the Internet."

And the big question Battelle asked Miller, "What's it like working with Rupert Murdoch?"  Miller said (paraphrased) he is, "The most intellectually curious person to work with.  He wants to know everything, whether it be in the digital world or political world.  He still retains his ambition."

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