Fox Interactive Media boss Peter Levinsohn warms up the crowd for his chat at the Merrill conference today by giving the NYT a look inside the company’s ad targeting initiative for MySpace. The idea is to offer advertisers “buckets” of MySpace’s 110 million members based on information they provide on their own profiles: This one likes adventure sports; another one is really into lipstick, etc.
It sounds as if the company is moving a bit faster than the schedule FIM ad chief Mike Barrett laid out for us last month: The program, which started with just 10 or 11 broad categories, has been sliced up into “hundreds” of subcategories to allow for hypertargeting. In the best case scenario this dramatically increases ads’ effectiveness — clicks on some auto ads increased 50%, FIM execs say. Last month Barrett suggested the ads could command a premium of 20% to 50%.
How much is that worth to News Corp? COO Peter Chernin emphasised the importance of the program during his Merrill remarks on Monday, and Pali Research’s Rich Greenfield says it could raise MySpace’s monthly revenue from $40 million to $70 million by next month. But News Corp. needs MySpace to average $67 million a month in the next year just to hit the $800 million goal it laid out in August.
And whether its because of competition from Facebook or just general entropy, MySpace’s user and traffic numbers seem to finally be slowing. If it’s going to be a genuine growth engine for News Corp., it needs this program to come through. NYT