Do you remember Myspace? Before Facebook and Twitter, before Spotify and Soundcloud, Myspace—founded in 2003 by everyone’s “first friend,” Tom Anderson, and Chris Dewolfe—was briefly the most popular social network in the world, eventually attracting a large swathe of artists who used the platform for sharing music.
After 13 years of tumultuous ups and downs, including having Justin Timberlake as co-owner (and creative director) after buying the site in 2011 with Tim Vanderhook for $35 million and relaunching it in 2012, the phoenix is rising from the ashes as venerable publisher Time Inc. just bought Myspace parent company Viant’s assets for an undisclosed fee.
The purchase “will allow [us] to participate in the growing $34 billion performance advertising segment,” said Time Inc. in a press release.
“This acquisition is game changing for us,” said Time Inc. Chairman and CEO Joe Ripp. “Marketers are selecting media partners that have either data-driven capabilities or premium content; we will be able to deliver both in a single platform, and will stand apart from those that offer just one or the other. In other words, we will be able to deliver advertisers’ messages targeted to optimal audiences across all types of devices, along with the ability to measure ROI.”
Founded in 1999, Viant owns and operates digital ad technology and media companies including Specific Media, Vindico, Myspace and Xumo. Its platform gives Time Inc. capabilities in targeting ad delivery, linking devices back to real people, and converting ad spend to actual sales and closing the ROI loop.
— Myspace (@Myspace) February 11, 2016
Rupert Murdoch called News Corp’s 2005 purchase of Myspace “a huge mistake.” “Many questions and jokes about Myspace,” Murdoch tweeted in 2012. “Simple answer—we screwed up in every way possible, learned lots of valuable expensive lessons.”
In 2005, the L.A.-based company was acquired by News Corp. for $580 million and by 2006, it was the most visited website in the US. But then came Facebook and by 2008, MySpace’s slow decline had begun.
“Myspace is intrinsic to Viant’s people-based advertising platform,” said a spokesperson, in TechCrunch. Viant reports that its ad network covers 1.2 billion people—about 1 billion from Myspace alone—and is “one of the largest registered user databases, powering a comprehensive suite of advertising applications available on-demand, in the cloud.”
Time Inc. is striving to increase ad tech initiatives to offset losses in traditional publishing and basic ad services, and expects Viant to contribute about $100 million in digital ad sales for 2016.