When a Pivot Goes Well: Taking a Look at MySpace’s Recent Comeback

MySpace

Adapting to the changing market and adjusting your business model is an essential part of surviving in the fast-paced world that is the tech industry. Sites that are giants today can quickly become irrelevant in only a few years—even worse, synonymous with that notion. Just ask Myspace or Digg. Fortunately, there are many things that these large sites can do when they have a high amount of brand equity, especially when they become a modern day legacy brand.

Out of all of the latest major relaunches, Myspace is by far the most impressive. After several changes in ownership and a few attempts at rebranding, the latest attempt seems to have done the trick. Taking a look at the trend of unique visitors (UVs) over the past two years, you can see that not only was the site on the consistent decline, all of the other efforts to revive the site seemed to be a failure – the only success being a short four month upward trend in UVs following the MySpace TV pivot.

Pivot baby, one more time

On June 12, 2013, MySpace relaunched once again. They ditched the News Corp version and brought the music-focused version out of beta and made it available to the public. Along with that came a $20 million advertising campaign. As with the previous attempts of rebranding, there were many doubts. Although the overall sentiment was positive for the site redesign, they received criticism for using the money to bring in high-profile artists rather than emphasizing the changes made to the site. Two months later, a one-month increase that was thought to be an anomaly is proving to be an upward trend—and many of the critics are beginning to get quiet.

Unique Visitors Myspace

Not only did MySpace see an incredibly impressive month-over-month (MoM) increase of 115% from June to July, they saw an even higher MoM increase of 124% from July to August. These figures would be impressive for any website. Taking into account the fact that MySpace sees millions of UVs per month makes it almost unbelievable.

Engagement Myspace

Unfortunately, this large spike in traffic caused their engagement rates to suffer. Since the relaunch of the site, average stay has been roughly 2 minutes less than what it was before and pages per visit is roughly 85% lower than the months leading up to the relaunch.

Visits / Person MySpace

Although engagement metrics have dropped, one upside is that the number of times each visitor comes to the site has increased since the launch—despite an initial downtick.

The drop in engagement is not surprising, as many webmasters know, when you get a sudden increase in traffic you often see engagement rates much lower than your site average. However, in the case of MySpace, this flood of traffic isn’t just a bunch of curious one-time visitors. They might be curious, but they are also coming back.

Getting by with a lot of help from their friends

Something else that is really interesting is how they aren’t seeing these traffic increases from one place in particular. MySpace is seeing traffic increases across the board – from shopping sites to gaming sites to career and education, there isn’t one category that contributed less traffic than the previous month. However, one thing to consider is how MySpace pivoted. Rebranding themselves as a platform for artists and their fans, we would expect to see a large amount of their traffic coming from music-oriented sites. Or we would at least expect considerable improvement within that category. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although the music and video category is the sixth highest contributor of traffic, they only saw a 7.7% MoM increase and the category’s contributed share of the total traffic actually dropped 0.2%.

Traffic Source / Category
Visits
+/-
+/- (%)
Incoming Share (%)
Change in Share
Direct Traffic2784994220139426261.2%37.0%0.2%
Web Portals and Search10587664492042514.4%14.1%-0.1%
Miscellaneous753591353026502.4%10.0%0.1%
Social Networking352749416158283.3%4.7%-1.0%
Music and Video329619522178537.7%4.4%-0.2%
Shopping3723741290318473.5%5.0%11.4%
Computers and Internet3456443245971832.6%4.6%3.0%
Gaming1501834117714413.3%2.0%1.6%
News and Media3478583272073852.7%4.6%7.4%
Career and Education96076972535695.7%1.3%24.4%
Entertainment Guide88084462874312.5%1.2%0.6%
Blogging125096290318532.6%1.7%3.7%
Financial Services116493490575847.8%1.5%6.5%
Services107800179569335.8%1.5%5.3%
Travel99544373951158.1%1.3%5.8%
Reference4213942861944.8%0.6%-0.5%
Health60158744994026.7%0.8%3.8%
Hobbies and Interests1357868102977452.8%1.8%6.1%
Automotive37508930103929.8%0.5%6.8%
Incentive Programs2097901505842.5%0.3%0.1%
Sports29644124264661.9%0.4%12.4%
Gambling15437711670716.2%0.2%3.2%
Government1367937975818.4%0.2%3.1%
Wireless123208896157.1%0.2%0.2%
Products18460410397820.2%0.2%2.4%
Web Analytics65436442184.0%0.1%-0.1%

On the road again

MySpace still has a long road ahead of them. Yes, they are capturing the interest of a lot of people. However, it isn’t clear if they are capturing the audience that they want. Although many are beginning to show caution with the MySpace criticisms, they do have a point: MySpace does have something good going on – they have redesigned the site into something that is aesthetically pleasing with a good UX. But rather than focusing on this, they are haphazardly throwing money at a high-profile advertising campaign with a short lifecycle. For the first time since their decline, they are showing some momentum. We’ll just have to wait and see what they do with it.

If you would like to see the data used to analyze MySpace’s recent success, or if you would like to perform similar analyses, sign up for a free trial of Compete PRO.

About Zach Eberhart:
As a senior at Northeastern University, Zach Eberhart is thrilled to join the Compete team as the new Social Media / Marketing Co-op. Majoring in marketing and management information systems, Zach loves everything marketing and technology and has experience in both the agency and startup world. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+ or LinkedIn.

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  1. Rich

    I believe it’s just the ad dollars talking. MySpace, and others before it such as Friendster, are rejected versions of a social network that finally came together properly in Facebook.

    It’ll be virtually impossible for MySpace to start fresh, unless they come up with something neat that Facebook doesn’t have.

    Reply

    • Zach Eberhart

      Although I agree with the fact that it may be the ad dollars talking, I don’t believe that they are doomed entirely.

      Not only are they completely rebranding and focusing on a niche (though they may be late to the game with Spotify and Soundcloud dominating that space), they are also targeting a demographic that may have never used MySpace.

      So yes, their efforts may be lost on anyone above 18. However, I don’t know if I can say the same for the <18 demographic.

      Reply

  2. Kevin

    I am curious if you have insights into whether this spike in traffic really reflects a turn-around, or simply the results of the major multi-million dollar ad campaign blitz that they packaged with their relaunch. Considering the average stay dropped to under half a minute, this seems like it could be the result of entirely bought traffic, and not a long-term change in fortunes.

    Reply

    • Zach Eberhart

      It’s really hard to say. The most we have to go on are engagement metrics like avg stay (4:46 in September), pages per visit (1.28), and visits per person (1.87).

      One thing that leads me to believe that most of the traffic is bought is the variety of sites they are seeing referrals from. However, the fact that even after the advertising blitz their average stay has been almost 5 minutes and their direct traffic increased by roughly 20 million from July to August makes me think it may be more than just advertising dollars speaking.

      Reply