Myspace.com plans UK push

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Myspace.com, the fast-growing community website hugely popular with American teens, is planning a push into the UK market early next year and will target Chinese-speaking markets shortly thereafter.

Ross Levinsohn, who heads News Corp?s internet businesses as president of Fox Interactive Media, said 1m of Myspace.com?s 40m registered users were already from the UK despite the company never having directly marketed there.

?Advertising revenue in the UK is growing faster than in the US,? he said, adding this made Britain a particularly attractive market for web properties aimed at the youth market prized by advertisers. Friends Reunited, the web site operator bought yesterday by Britain?s largest commercial broadcaster, ITV, targets a similar audience.

News Corp, the media group headed by Rupert Murdoch, acquired Myspace.com when it bought Intermix Media for $580m in September. The acquisition was part of Mr Murdoch?s decision this year to prioritise the internet in light of the shift in both consumer attention spans and advertising dollars to the growing medium.

Since Myspace was acquired, its user-base has grown by 16m, Mr Levinsohn said, speaking at a UBS conference in New York.

Myspace allows users, mostly in the teens or early 20s, to create home pages with details of their interests. Then, ?friends? can link to the pages or to any other pages than interest them. Music is a particularly popular area about which information is exchanged and the site?s prominence in launching new bands has led it to start its own record label.

Advertisers are keen to exploit the opportunity to target customers who have made public their interests. Mr Levinsohn said a lot of work was taking place to provide potential advertisers with detailed information about users of Myspace.com that could be used to target specific products and messages.

This work is also going on with the other internet properties News Corp has recently acquired, such as Scout.com, a web company aimed at sports fans, and IGN Media, which focuses on games and other content aimed at men under 30.

?We are starting our international expansion in the UK, given the strength of News Corp there. After that the primary focus will be Australia and China,? Mr Levinsohn said. The Chinese-language services will be launched in Hong Kong and Taiwan in the first half of next year, he said.

Mr Levinsohn said revenues for the Fox Interactive Media division of News Corp were expected to grow from $47m this year to around $300m next year. Of next year?s revenues, he predicted that about 70 per cent would be from advertising and the remainder from subscriptions.

?We?re the next generation for growth at News Corp,? Mr Levinsohn said of the group?s internet businesses.

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