MySpace’s New Owner on the Value of a ‘Like’

Measurement issues top industry exec's list of problems to solve

What does MySpace’s new owner, Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook, think about Facebook’s "like"?

Not surprisingly, not too much.

Speaking on a “leadership roundtable” with other industry executives Monday morning, Vanderhook said that the digital landscape is dominated by “behemoth” companies that create metrics that don’t benefit brands, but the companies’ self-interest.

“We create metrics that are effectively worthless and pretend that they’re worth something,” he said. “Like a friend, or a follower. What is that to a brand?”

Vanderhook (who introduced himself to the crowd by saying, “We’re the idiots who apparently didn’t know that MySpace was dead”) said it’s challenging for brands to understand the value of social media activity, even though Google “clicks” and Facebook “likes” get so much attention.

Other panelists agreed that measurement issues rank highly on the industry’s list of problems to solve.

“We need to do a better job of coalescing around how we measure,” said Bob Bowman, president, MLB Advanced Media. “Forget how we place the ads, let’s just get standardization and measurement.”

Nigel Morris, CEO of Aegis Media Americas, said that for clients, the current environment is “a bit confusing.”

Ultimately, that complexity means opportunity, he said, but for now, “we cannot measure across the different media in the way that we want to. We’re making choices on a day-by-day basis, sometimes flying blind.”

To the extent possible, his company works with clients to analyze online interactions, but for the next two or three years, the industry needs to accept that it will continue to grapple with measurement, Morris said.

But he added that clients are increasingly asking about the actual business value of their millions of fans and followers.

“[They’re asking] what is that delivering for me in terms of business outcome, in terms of sales?” Morris said. “As an industry, all of us have to get together to solve that. We’re going to be held much more accountable. But the whole convergence of media, what it actually does, enables us to get closer to the consumer and drive that sale in a measurable way.”