Rupert Murdoch thinks he can. He plans to auction "search rights" to MySpace to the highest bidder among Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineWatch, who follows this sort of thing, says MySpace currently has just 0.5% of the search market, with internal search done through a Yahoo re-seller.
The idea is that MySpace users who need to search the site will gravitate to the winning bidder, and Murdoch will pocket extra cash.
It is, in terms of Internet history, a loony idea. Although I'm sure the Kewl Kidz will call it a great way to "monetize" a site which, so far, is notable more for its traffic than its revenue streams.
They won't admit, because Murdoch won't tell them, that he's gotten himself in too deep. He's losing his shirt.
No one has tried to sell "search rights" to a site because a site that can't be found doesn't exist, to users of that search engine. Of course, no site has ever been arrogant enough to think it held a monopoly on a market before, as MySpace does.
The News Corp. executives who now run the site have all sorts of other "great" ideas:
- Sell detailed traffic data on their audience of teens and 20-somethings to marketers.
- Point the kids to News Corp. properties.
The fact is that just selling banners on the MySpace site won't bring in the needed revenue. Selling the equivalent of "AdWords" to bands or other entertainment properties won't work either.
News Corp. is losing so much money at MySpace that it can't earn it back in any traditional, Web-centric way.
So it's going to sell out its users, isolate itself from at least two of the largest search engines, push Fox News down kids' throats, and tell the media how clever it is.