The article seems off base. I don't get how Facebook avoids being all over the place. But, yeah, they did avoid the obnoxious ads (at first), and I can visit someone's page without blasting music or getting an eyeful of html poop.
Could they have avoided losing out to Facebook? I think if they created MySpace 2.0 without all the crap (essentially what Facebook did) and made it easy to migrate your accounts and activity, they could have prevented Facebook from taking over social. But they didn't, and it was crap, and I basically put up a MySpace message saying I was moving to Facebook for all the reasons, and that's where people could find me. And I think a lot of other people followed suit.
But I still appreciate Ze Frank's defense of ugly wrt MySpace democratizing design tools, and his observations that the fact that so many people were cutting, modifying, and pasting css was at the time weird and kind of wonderful.
> As people start learning and experimenting with these languages authorship, they don't necessarily follow the rules of good taste. This scares the shit out of designers.
> In Myspace, millions of people have opted out of pre-made templates that "work" in exchange for ugly. Ugly when compared to pre-existing notions of taste is a bummer. But ugly as a representation of mass experimentation and learning is pretty damn cool.
But that's not MySpace's biggest sin. Its biggest problem was all the freedom it gave just helped turn into a defacto dating site. With no real rules and no focus on anything, girls put up lots of cleavage photos for attention and guys hit on them. Guys put up shirtless leering photos and girls responded. Comments were more often bawdy talk than not. Teens and 20 somethings ruled. It never migrated past a high school mentality. A bit like how Second Life has now pretty much become a fetish site for furries.
Then Facebook showed up with its academic focus. The existing userbase were all college students whose peers, professors, potential employers, family, etc had access to their profiles, so there was a disincentive to treat it like "da club." People put their personal and semi-professional faces up and when the floodgates were open to Joe User, he saw the culture there, the lack of customizations, etc and conformed to what Facebook was. It had the mainstream professional and familial mores its roots were built upon. The Wild West of the Myspace world was just too self-limiting in this case. It couldn't go mainstream with its culture. It was too "young person trying to get laid" focused.
I think many of us realized that SL had little potential beyond that even in its infancy. Minecraft soaked up the remaining interest in the potential of the programmable, realtime virtual worlds quite nicely.
Facebook was a little more "Apple-like" in that they preferred not to even offer you the tools with which you might crapify your profile. The most obvious result has been that your profile and feed are only crapped up when it's by Facebook themselves but at the same time, I do think it's a shame that so many younger (or just newer) folks won't necessarily have the same easy opportunity to start messing around with HTML and CSS and other stuff the way people in the 90's and earlier 00's had loads of tools to tinker around with their personal "homepage" of choice.
Not saying there aren't plenty of chances to learn that stuff still but I know the barrier is a lot lower when that site everyone uses also offers some chance to learn and customize.
i hated auto-playing music until it didn't exist anymore. now i miss the individuality. not specifically the music but also the other ways you could customize the page. in case anyone isn't familiar, you could basically just embed arbitrary html/css/js.
I think that's debatable, perhaps it wasn't as bad as MySpace at the time, but the facebook I joined in 2008 was fairly obnoxious with advertisers using profile pictures of the users left and right; the thought of it becoming a company the size of Google never crossed my mind back then. In retrospect I think they were very lucky not to lose their userbase and traction to a better service when the advertising and application spam got unbearable.
MySpace was the wild west of social networking. I only joined after so many people kept asking if I'd join. FaceBook was so limited when it started out, with minimal interactions, one picture and groups. The only reason Myspace lasted as long as it did was FaceBook took time to gear up and open to the public. After that, it was doomed.
Anyway, my take on it was this: FB stock (at the time) is mostly a bet on two questions. (1) Can they remain the major social network where everyone has a profile and logs in regularly? (2) Can they build an ad platform that makes money off that position. Most people were curious about #2, I think because FB delayed really finding out the answer until after the IPO.
For the second question, I thought 'yes' was most likely. I had (and still have) a lot of confidence in the power of scale to add value to an ad network. The bigger the userbase, the more targeting opportunities you have. If you can limit your audience to people in their 30s, with kids, within 5 miles^ and still end up with enough people to bother I think you have a valuable ad platform.^^ Anyway, the answer is yes. FB advertising is one of the world's blue ribbon cash cows.
That's the difference between millions and billions.
The first question though, I was (and am) less confident about. For FB to be a good investment it needs to last decades. Google has maintained its search position for a decade, but who knows if Facebook can in social. A lot of the forces at work are more cultural than economic or technological and unpredictable. Will it become uncool, unpopular. Will popular focus shift to some new shiny thing. It's a much harder question. Maybe a reason to think that it can is if you think FB-size and network effects locks a service into position in ways that Myspace-size doesn't. Maybe FB's deep pockets will let them acquire, innovate, advertise and otherwise spend their way to long term survival. I don't really have and educate way of guessing at this question.
^Add in "who are within 2 degrees of people that have visited your site" and you're really cookin.
^^tangent: if you could combine a streaming TV service with Netflix-like penetration using FB login and FB ad targeting, I'd wager you could make more in ad revenue using only a small fraction of airtime than traditional TV. IE 10 second "preroll" ads, unobtrusive banner ads (on pause, buffer, etc) with FB's targeting would earn more per viewer than traditional TV's.
It's coming. The next wave in advertising will be ad targeting based on addressable set top boxes, which basically means targeted video ads on TV. Advertisers will be able to do things like "make sure each household sees my ad five times" to avoid cases where people who watch lots of TV see it twenty times and people who don't watch much only see it once. With addressable STB's + microtargeting there will be a whole new set of companies for which it will be profitable to advertise on TV. Right now the long tail of niche companies has no chance of profitably advertising on TV because their target only makes up a very, very, very small percentage of an individual program (think about a company advertising Bitcoin ASIC's for example). But if they get addressability + microtargeting right then they can make sure that only households which are interested in Bitcoin ASIC's see the ads.
To give you an example, imagine you own a gym and you are recruiting members. I think with a really well targeted campaign to 1,000 people could yield a 5% signup rate over a month, 50 people. That's a guess, but I think it's not unreasonable. Most gyms would gladly pay $50-$100 per member for that result, so $2,500-$5,000 to target 1,000 people.
That means a single SME advertiser could pay half the current price of a netflix subscription for a 1000 . Obviously, those 1,000 people will be targeted by more than one advertiser.
Targeting & performance tracking are super enhancers. A significant improvement in either of these can yield 10X improvements in ad performance and similar increases in ad revenue. Scale is very important. So are supporting assets, good data sources and ways of creating links between them.
FB already has the best (by far, IMO) platform for creating target groups and one of the best platforms for attribution/performance tracking/conversion tracking. You can upload a list of you gym members and get back an "audience" of their friends, who are 25-40, live in the area… Then you can subdivide it into single women, married women, married men, single men, etc. and try different ads for different people. That's the kind of improvement over TV ads that creates a 1000X increase in value per second of advertising airtime.
*Reading back, it seems from my comments that I'm asserting a lot of things fairly confidently. Obviously, this is a lot of speculation and guestimates based on my understanding of the ad economy and my experience as a buyer.
Besides, ads are all over streaming television but they're in the form of product placements within the content. They're more subtle and don't interrupt the flow of what you are watching.
Then you got Google ads and the like. Since you could target based on someone's general region or search topics or some other demographic info, ads could be more relevant. They didn't need to be flashy and noisy and could sit alongside search results or website contents as plain text or simple images. People trying to attract customers could focus their ad budgets where they were more likely to have a return and site owners could charge more for ad space since it was worth more.
I think that in theory, cable and other ways of getting TV-type content could move in much the same direction. Instead of just running more ads and hoping that people watching show (x) will be interested, they could run ads for stuff in your city or things in the categories you're interested in. Higher relevance would mean less total ads for the TV company to make the same profit selling ad space. It would mean less ads for things you'll never be interested in. And it would mean less money wasted by companies advertising on deaf ears.
But yeah...while this could happen I'm not really that optimistic. A young Google could take on the old model and replace it but the entrenched TV and cable companies would likely just add it to their arsenal. Instead of fewer, more lucrative targeted ads paying for now-free service, you'll just see the same subscription fees and the same pile of interruptions. Just now they'll be targeted.
While it's a good show the scenes are definitely written to have an ad every 10-15 minutes or so. Writers who make it in screenwriting know their bread-and-butter comes from advertisers, so they alter natural story arcs to fit 10-15 minutes slots. It's no wonder that BBC and PBS have better stories: their writers don't have to worry about fitting ads in.
Again, I don't mind product placement to an extent. Parenthood must have 2-3 scenes every episode with an Apple product in focus. Don't alter the flow of a story to fit in an ad though.
Paid/subscription has the internet going for. Hulu/Netflix/etc. can operate without (much) infrastructure. But there are (IMO) real pathologies in the economy that we are seeing play out. A nice UI is a plus, but not a long term strategic advantage. The long term strategic advantage is exclusive content. That's great in the sense that it competitively promotes high quality shows. But, it also turns services into silos. People subscribed to Netflix, Premier League and BlubbyTV still don't get Game of Thrones' newest season because HBO.TV need an 8 month exclusion period to sell their $7.99 subscription.
Exclusivity is a waste. TV shows are noncompetitive goods. In the age of torrents, it's also a cause of instability.
Back to ads… A lot of what is bad about TV advertising is based on the old FMCG advertising model. Since they're shown to everyone in a region, they can only sell tampons, cereal, cars, bank accounts, washing powder… products that everyone uses. Products most people care about very little. Branding for mature products where all options are near identical is that dull repetition thing. It takes 100s of views per uninterested person to make sure people remember that Coca Cola is THE real coke.
OTOH, ultra-targeted ads while worrying and creepy from the privacy perspective, are much more relevant. Relevant usually means less annoying. More importantly, it doesn't require that much repetition or overall airtime to do the work. With ideal targeting, a 10 second preroll ad (ad plays before the show starts), banners on pause and other minimal ads can achieve more than 4 X 3 minute ad breaks on regular TV.
This ties into the competitive environment that Netflix-like service compete in. Ads suck and people will switch to itunes, DVDs or torrents. That will help keep them honest and minimize the space/time they can have. Internet streaming has more room for competition. Services will compete on user friendliness and that means there will be a lot of pressure not to annoy people with ads. In fact, minimizing obtrusiveness and maximizing revenues will be the main competitive pressure. Too little revenue and the shows will opt out of your service, too much and subscribers will switch to another service. 10X better than the pathological cable market.
On the business model/economics side of things, ad revenue is better than subscription at distributing the loot. Shows can get a portion of ad revenue for their views, hopefully the lion's share. This gives shows an incentive to increase viewership across all platforms. Exclusivity can go away. All content can be available everywhere. just make the best show to win.
Shows won't need to go around trying to cut exclusive deals. It will be in their interest to be on all platforms. For a platform to buy exclusivity, they will need to beat the potential ad revenue earned on all the other platforms, a high bar for any show worth pursuing.
Overall, I think that an ad-based TV economy will have the best effect on the complex as a whole. Ads will reward shows that are successful across all on-demand platforms and that will encourage the types of high quality binge-watchable shows that I think are finally rivaling novels from a story, character and art perspective.
Outliers will still have the option of purchasing shows on itunes and stuff like that. If they are really a decent market, some of the streaming services might offer ad free options at a higher price. But, I think sufficient competition (no reason there shouldn't be) will arrive at a result with more revenue, less overhead and a lot less airtime dedicated to ads.
^The giant mammoth in the living room is privacy. I think it'll be 10 years before we've worked this one out. I haven't gone into it because I don't know what I think.
It seems to me that it already has, and that this hasn't mattered. The world only needs one "boring public-face social network", and that's Facebook.
Teenagers will use Tumblr or Snapchat or Instagram or whatever else to get laid. But they'll send friend requests to their actual real-life friends—the ones they don't want to expose their online self to—on Facebook. Because that's what you do.
It's a niche, sort of like how business cards still exist despite the ability to email contact information around.
Facebook already serves up 3 Billion video views per day and has a great video ad unit. They also have a mobile app partner network where they serve ads on third party apps.
I think everyone in advertising thinks mobile video ad units will surpass every other ad unit and media due to its massive scale and proven effectiveness.
If you aren't running video ads on mobile through Facebook in 2015... You are stuck in the past.
I think the answer is no, which is why you see both companies invest in such moonshots as mobile operating systems, virtual reality, drones and autonomous vehicles.
Better question would be - can they use their current market dominance to execute properly when the next wave of computing comes along?
MySpace was largely regarded, at that point, as a cesspool, but still had the appeal of being the place to interact with famous people and the platform famous people used to interact with their fans.
In that sense, MySpace had already lost to Facebook in one aspect and was about ready to lose to Twitter in the other.
“I remember the first meeting they had me set up with the whole team, and it was the saddest, most awkward meeting I’ve ever been in, in my life. And I’ve been in some really sad meetings. Literally sat there and everyone was so defeated,” he said.
“The analogy I use is like you were the half-time [basketball] coach, and I walk in and it’s half-time, and you’re down by 100 points … They had been beat down by that corporate bureaucracy, they knew they were about to lose to Facebook. They knew that the end was near. They could smell it.”"
* MySpace sold ads to Google when they didn't have ad inventory to sell. MySpace had to meet impression thresholds each month or pay penalties to Google. To meet those requirements, MySpace added ads where they should not have been. Impression ads were put up in odd places. MySpace forced users to log in for the sake of generating an impression. The result was a poor user experience.
* Tom & Chris were from an email spam shop background. eUniverse bought Tom & Chris email spam company. Once eUniverse had the emails, Tom & Chris had nothing to do, so they put their effort into creating something new. Friendster was doing well at the time, they decided to clone it, the result was MySpace. Spam and poor user experiences were part of their upbringing and it showed in MySpace.
* There were no coding standards. Engineering teams worked in silos with each team having their own standards. For example, at one time someone put a picture of all the different submit buttons in the break room. Tom & Chris shared this brake room. I'm not sure if the poster was motivational or insulting. We all knew the site looked ugly and this picture of all the different submit buttons quantified it.
* MySpace didn't leverage an API. FB users had the ability to add plug ins like calendars and classified ads from a myriad of sources. The result was users were able to choose the best solution. MySpace users were given the same tools built internally. Those tools were pushed out in rapid succession, without much effort, and users were left with poorly created solutions.
* MySpace cherished metrics that had no meaning. Your number of friends, for example, were meaningless. People like Percival created companies to help people add friends under the guise that having friends meant something. MySpace bought into that snake oil, Percival perpetuated it, then they hired him on as a VP.
* MySpace thought allowing users to create their own unique page was a competitive advantage. Users were given the ability to embed their own HTML within their own page. The result was ugly bloated pages. At MySpace, we had an internal message board to debate ideas. This idea was debated and people in product defended the ability to customize pages as a competitive advantage.
* Chris & Aber were distracted by 'partying'. Hang out at the bars on Wilshire Blvd, you'll hear things and I'll leave it at that.
* Employees were not given stock. Given salaries were great, people did not seem to be emotionally invested in the companies success.
Chris & Aber were distracted by 'partying'.
Hang out at the bars on Wilshire Blvd, you'll
hear things and I'll leave it at that.
Nymwars, Real Names, spamming contacts with G+ Circles, spamming Calendar with G+ events selected by other people, Notifications spam, forced integration of products, an absolutely deaf ear on any privacy issues or concerns, an insistence that "you're doing it wrong" (Circles, various settings, lord knows what), forced YouTube integration with G+, make-work interfaces, and more.
Experiences with Glass, Streetview, WiFi snooping, Do Not Track bypassing, or the many, many, many other killed Google products only hammer home how Google simply fails to comprehend issues of privacy. They're not defined by technology, they're not defined by law. They're defined by social norms, and the boundaries people define. Boundaries Google crosses all the fucking time.
The conflicts between what Google does, and what their former Director of Privacy, Alma Whitten, said, is staggering. Look up her old talks. I've got a few quotes on my G+ profile ("Edward Morbius").
People's use-cases differ, but in a nutshell, I'm looking for a way to have good an interesting conversations with people, without a tremendous breach in my personal privacy. Google ultimately wants to sell ads, but I'm 1) not buying those and 2) really not a choice target regardless.
There's an inherent conflict in the "social" space, and I don't really see any way around it.
There's nothing that Google doesn't get, but that Snapchat or Instagram mysteriously do.
You heard about about a band and you could listen to some songs instantaneously without downloading it on eMule or Torrent, it was great.
Persistent security holes plagued them, though, and it sort of disappeared shortly after the News Corp buyout. Nothing I've read paints a picture of Myspace as a classic feat of software engineering.
Wow. That is a huge difference. Kind of like the difference between fact and fiction?
MySpace was built by a bunch of knuckle heads. It was _destroyed_ by News Corporation.
I'm just finishing reading another book called Click by Bill Tancer written around the same period. And Myspace had 3 out of the top 10 searches for brand websites (myspace, myspace.com, and www.myspace.com). Facebook had just appeared on the scene and was in the 10th search spot.
MySpace had a horrible UX. You felt _dirty_ after browsing a few pages. Everything was all over the place; the form (UI) destroyed the function (social network). It was like Geocities and Friendster had a love-child that was addicted to LSD.
MySpace felt more like a raging alcoholic to me.
Seriously, he got there in 2009. MySpace's active user base hadn't grown since 2006 (hey, that year rings a bell, did something happen? ;-).
You can say this about pretty much every traditional news site out there today. Most of them are just horrible.
Myspace lost, in part, because it found itself in competition with a company run by a very talented team with big ambitions and ample connections.
What would they have to lose? It would make the headlines the world over, and people would be getting back the MySpace they signed up for.
"Percival talked about what the company might have done differently, and admitted that by the time he arrived in 2009, it was possibly unsaveable – not least because by that time, it was difficult to hire the most talented engineers against competition from Facebook, Google and other rising tech companies."
“There are companies that do not get social and they never will. Apple’s one of them, Google is the other: they’ve failed with Google+. When your culture is engineering-focused, you do not understand social. Social is a very emotional experience. Engineers are not so much, in a lot of cases,”
In the first quote he basically says MySpace didn't have the engineers to save the company.
In the second quote he basically says engineers are not what make the social industry tick. Yes, he's talking about Apple and Google here, but he's contradicting what he said.
Regardless I'm not sure why he said the first quote in the at all. The problem they had, had nothing to do with Engineers, but had everything to do with the company culture.
You are misconceiving the second quote. That quote is the end of the article, where it has moved on from the topic of "What happened at Myspace", and is talking about the social networking industry at large. I do not interpret it as being a stab at Myspace specifically, nor about what happened there.
What an odd metaphor!
“They kicked her off because she was just too damn sexy. "
I think that we are missing part of the story here. I mean, come on! I stopped reading at this point.
Of course he is painting in broad strokes in the interview, but MySpace's 'in' was that they started by attracting creative people, such as wannabe models, musicians and photographers.