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Innovation

Is MySpace finally, undeniably dead (to advertisers)?

Buzz and reputation, not mere traffic numbers, often determine the rise and fall of a Web site. The fabled first-mover advantage is not all it's cracked up to be.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

MySpace is officially dead to advertisers, writes Pace Lattin.

It's seen as having lost the social networking space to Facebook, an an audience now made up of mostly teens and tweens.

Lattin is not just any old blogger. He has founded two big sites in the Web advertising space, ADOTAS and (before that) ADBUMb. He now works for Affiliate.com and its parent, Media Breakaway.

He knows stuff. If a web advertising expert like Lattin says something is so, take it seriously.

Of course, it must be said that the death of MySpace has been predicted many times before, ever since News Corp. bought it for $580 million in 2005.

Technosailor Adam Aaron Brazell asked the question back in 2007. The Churning asked the question in 2008, as did the Riverfront Times in 2009, as did the artist Chasity Chaos in March at Chicagonow.

The company's second purge of the executive suite in February seems to have enhanced the negative spin, although SiliconValleyWatcher Tom Foremski disputes this, pointing to one analyst's view that MySpace messaging traffic is five times more than Twitter's.

Just today, the site is featuring the live performance of Sea of Cowards, from The Dead Weather. Live and free online. The show starts at 6 PM today, so hurry over. (I never heard of them before either, but maybe your teenager has. A present for doing their homework.)

Why does all this matter?

Partly because MySpace and its rival Facebook are the sites your kids are most likely to be spending their time on. Partly because it illustrates how even smart companies like News Corp. can make a hash of things.

Partly because it illustrates how buzz and reputation, not mere traffic numbers, often determine the rise and fall of a Web site.

But mostly because it illustrates again that, in computing but especially on the Internet, no lead is safe. The cost of switching loyalties is constantly declining. People can leave you, and will.

In other words the fabled first-mover advantage is not all it's cracked up to be.

Yahoo had first mover advantage in search. Google seized it. Before that Apple had the first mass market graphical user interface. Microsoft seized that market with Windows. And the first commercial computer came from Univac. IBM took that lead quickly.

Once someone does something good, there is always the opportunity to do it better. The only way an innovator keeps their lead is if they keep innovating.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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