Travis Katz, MD, International MySpace/ Fox Interactive Media talks about MySpace’s plans in India. The site has launched in India recently and has already announced a slew of initiatives with various Indian media companies like Zee Cafe and SaReGaMa.
How will you position MySpace in India vis-à-vis the already existing social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and the local sites like Bigadda, Fropper.com?
MySpace is very different from any other social networking site. Not only is it the largest site on a global scale with 10 million users worldwide, the site is also much more about self expression. In MySpace, people can customize their profiles; change the background, play with colours etc. It is more about rich media content and culture so there is lot of music, video, comedy and fashion on the site. It is a global community. It’s not just segmenting the market by the city but also opening up to a whole new world. The other thing that differentiates us from others is our very robust business model.
Do you see social networking sites as a new media channel?
Absolutely. MySpace is at the leading edge of a new generation. It is changing the way the Internet works in very profound ways. MySpace is changing the whole dynamics as it is building an audience around individual users. It is training the users to customise their whole experience in terms of who they want to interact with. It will be a standalone media channel as well as complementary to the existing traditional media channels. At MySpace, we work with a lot of traditional broadcasters. For example, in the United States, we did a partnership with MTV for a show for which we had live shows which were broadcast on air. MySpace users could send in questions which were being answered on television.
At the same time, what we are seeing is, it is also a powerful standalone medium. We are working with a number of content producers to create standalone series for the Internet. For example, there is an original vampire film that we have done for the Internet. In the whole range, what we are seeing in these series is that it is getting large audiences. It is very interesting from a marketing perspective; we are working very closely with brands to figure out how they can integrate their experiences in the content. We create models for the brands and get them involved in the process of creating content. So, it’s not just about having advertising in terms of a 30 second spot.
MySpace has global content tie-ups with BBC Worldwide and Five. Will you look for similar tie-ups in India?
We did our first broadcast partnership in India with Channel [V] for a show called Campus Star, a university talent show. That was a great starting point. The users were involved, they could nominate themselves and vote in terms of who they thought was better, through MySpace. I think there are a lot of opportunities in India for content tie-ups. We are talking to different broadcasters as to how can they get involved, how can they take advantage of the medium. The response from the broadcasters is very positive. They are very excited about the opportunity. We have a team on ground that understands the entertainment market.
What will be the monetisation model of MySpace in India?
The core of our revenue model is based around advertising. MySpace has created various forms of advertising which are fairly attractive. In addition to traditional display advertising, we give a number of different opportunities to brands and clients. This could range from sponsoring live events, concerts, festivals to getting involved in the productions of original content series online to creating what we call custom communities, where you can allow a brand to build profiles on MySpace in the same way a normal user can. The real brand enthusiasts will become the advertisers for the brand in the MySpace community.
We are just beginning the conversation with the advertisers in India now. Deep Malhotra has joined us from Google. He is a luminary in this field.
How will you market MySpace in India to the consumers and to the advertisers?
To the advertisers, it is mostly about one-on-ones. A lot of it starts with spending time with brands and in understanding what they are trying to achieve. We tell them how our platform can be leveraged across the country. We work very collaboratively with brands and I think it is just a matter of taking time and having those conversations.
For the consumers, we don’t have traditional advertising for MySpace. What we focus on, is how to start engaging the audiences, how do we excite their passions. We will be doing a lot of content partnerships with media companies, offline events and other types of non traditional marketing. Our focus will be to create a viral buzz in India.