Long before YouTube dominated online video consumption, Myspace held court as the premium video platform on the internet. It reached an impressive 20 million registered users by 2007, and the site quickly grew to become the world’s largest social network, before being overtaken by Facebook. After a ill-received redesign in 2008, the site's popularity declined outside of its loyal fan base but they are slowly making their way back, and video is a huge part of the core focus for 2014.
As a website, Myspace has learnt many lessons along the way and has innovated and adapted based on viewer consumption feedback. The Myspace video player is a great illustration of this: not only does it expand to let people watch full-screen videos, it can also scale down to the screen’s corner, allowing viewers to keep an eye on the video while also doing other things – like messaging with connections or reading an article about the artist in the video. If a user decides he or she doesn't want to watch the video and just likes the song, then they can “escape” out and still keep the audio playing. Or, they can close it out altogether to end the video and the song entirely.
Although it sounds simple, Myspace was the first to offer consumers this level of flexibility in how they consume and interact with video content. We spoke with Dominic Franceschi, Executive Director of Customer Experience and Product Marketing at Myspace, about its plans for the future regarding premium video content.
ReelSEO: You guys have made a massive change with the design and approach of the site – how does video fit in with that? Do you see video as a powerful way to win back market share?
Dominic Franceschi: We built the new site to be highly visual, and featuring big expansive images and premium video was a huge part of that. Video has long been a core offering for Myspace given that we have one of the largest music video catalogs in the world. Since the re-launch, we've continued to expand our video library, offering more quality video content—much of it produced by our own in-house content team.
In general, there’s a lack of quality, truly premium video content out there today. Video is expensive to produce and not always easy to distribute. It is a core focus for us to deliver really compelling, beautifully produced content—whether we’re talking about a Myspace original series, HD-music videos, or concert live streams, high-quality is always a key point of our internal discussions. We see the consistent delivery of strong product that addresses the needs of our core audience as the way to win market share, offering quality video content is part of that approach.
ReelSEO: Myspace was the #1 video site before YouTube launched in 2005. Were there aspirations to keep up or did the owners want to take the site into a different direction?
Dominic Franceschi: Although Myspace was one of the first sites known for having a lot of video, Myspace was never just a video site. Our mission is to help people showcase themselves and their work, in turn, improving discovery and consumption. Video is arguably the best medium for communication and presentation—of self, works, ideas, Etc.
Housing original content, licensed series, music videos, audio, user-uploaded content, live-streams, and more, Myspace has evolved into a content platform centered on discovery, music, and access. We’ve built a full editorial section, which features both written and video content produced by our in-house team, including original video franchises such as “Five Minutes to the Stage,” “ONETWOWATCH,” “Live At The Log Cabin,” and “Music Video Collaborations With Artists We Like.” These series offer people behind-the-scenes access to a variety of artists using high-quality video as the medium.
ReelSEO: There's no video tab on the homepage (although there is one on the drop down menu) – deliberate? [UPDATE: Video tab now on homepage]
Dominic Franceschi: In product testing we’ve found that when people are looking to consume content, they search for the content itself—by song title, artist or series name—more than they search by medium, such as articles, audio, or video. It’s about the content—the experience. To make the experience positive, and one that people enjoy and want to repeat, it’s important that we produce quality video content and that we feature it in a way that’s easy for our community to discover and consume. This is why, as part of the redesign, we made videos available through a couple paths:
1) You can just start typing to search for anything. Seriously, just type. Alternatively, you can conduct searches via typing queries directly into the search bar. Either way, your search results appear instantly, filtered into buckets—one of which is Videos.
2) When people don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for specifically, the Myspace Discover section helps by featuring a selection of curated content, including videos, music charts, and recommended mixes. Each path is pretty seamless and straightforward and each has its unique benefits, depending on the consumer mindset at a given moment in time.
ReelSEO: Are advertisers interested in promoting with, or around video content? Are they asking for video content?
Dominic Franceschi: When it comes to content, video is king as more and more people gravitate toward it. Today, nearly 200 million people watch video online—an audience that’s been growing fast. In turn, video is the fastest-growing digital advertising medium as advertisers shift budgets to online video. All arrows point to advertisers wanting video content—correction—wanting PREMIUM video content that they can actually associate their brands with. The demand is there on both sides. The one thing that’s holding up even more explosive growth is a general lack of supply. When it comes to premium content, there’s just not enough of it out there for brands to tap into. This is just what Myspace provides: the largest catalog of online music videos as well as premium original content.
Because of Myspace’s relationship with Specific Media, which reaches about 90% of the entire online video population, we find that brands automatically know that Myspace is a leader in the video space: As a top music destination online, Myspace creates the premium content into which advertisers can integrate natively as well as a platform on which they can house their full content marketing initiatives; in turn, Specific Media gives brands the ability to reach across the network and engage even more consumers, drawing them back to their brand’s content hub.
ReelSEO: Justin Timberlake co-owns the company with the Vanderhooks, and the new design is heavily music focused. Are there any plans to link up with VEVO or other big music publishers to become a serious rival to YouTube?
Dominic Franceschi: We’re definitely taking a music-centered path. Internally, we say that we view the world through the lens of music. Our video content truly reflects this in the sense that it isn’t merely a catalog of music videos—although our partnership with all three major music labels gives us the ability to offer the largest digital music video library. In addition to that though, we also create and present standalone videos and video series that introduce new artists, highlight unique backstories, offer behind-the-scenes access…basically, we feature all things music.
Through Specific Media, Myspace also has the unique ability to distribute content across a broad network of premium publishers. Holistically then, Myspace’s role is really to showcase and promote artists and facilitate consumer discovery of their work and what they’re all about.