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MySpace versus Facebook: Winning in the US, Losing internationally

MySpace versus Facebook, Fight!
Several months ago, I bet my friend Arjun (then at Zillow, now at Facebook) that MySpace would continue to dominate Facebook. At the time, MySpace had 109M uniques per month, and Facebook had 47M uniques. While Facebook was growing faster at the time, MySpace had such a large multiple that I thought it was unlikely Facebook would catch up.

Yesterday I pulled up some stats, and found some interesting info:

Here’s the US chart of uniques, MySpace versus Facebook:

And here’s the global numbers for MySpace versus Facebook:

Wow.

Couple observations:

  • Both MySpace and Facebook seem to have reached some form of saturation in the US – both sites seem to have plateau’d, with MySpace having 2X the uniques of Facebook
  • Internationally, Facebook has narrowed the gap to the point where it’s almost the bigger site – absent the recent couple months, where there’s been a plateau
  • Of course, a corollary two above observations is that most of Facebook’s new traffic is coming from overseas – from a monetization perspective, that’s a bad thing btw

This tells you how hard it is to extrapolate from past data – from my previous mathematical models of web traffic, as you reach saturation on acquireable audiences, it becomes harder and harder fight the plateau effect. That’s why oftentimes it’s easier to focus on acquiring brand new audiences (like internationally) rather than fix something that’s not working here in the US.

A test of the above paragraph is to watch the Facebook traffic – if it’s unable to beat the plateau without fundamentally re-inventing the product, it’ll mean that the site has hit its high water mark and won’t be able to ever beat MySpace monthly unique levels in the US. (Which is all that matters for big brand advertising anyway)

Side thought:
If MySpace is losing internationally, I wonder if it’s because MySpace is more distinctly "American" than Facebook, where the latter has more of a utilitarian feel that might be more applicable horizontally across cultures?

Side thought #2: I wonder if MySpace is continuing to beat Facebook in the US because the audience it represents a wider "mass media" audience than Facebook. Maybe MySpace::Facebook like People Magazine::Wired? See image below:

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