It’s like learning that the underpants gnomes are actually making money

There’s money to be made in crap. Who would have thought MySpace was so profitable?

Rupert Murdoch has told an industry conference that MySpace make $25 million per month on advertising.”It’s extraordinary, the advertising has gone from basically nothing to, on a net basis, $25 million a month and growing every month — almost 30 per cent every quarter,” he told the Digital Hollywood conference, in New York.

There’s an evolutionary lesson in there, I think. The part of MySpace that represents what people want and value — the social networking, the easy customization — is a tiny fraction of what is displayed on a MySpace page. Most of what I see over there are ads being pushed at me aggressively; simply logging in presents me with half the screen filled with a scantily clad woman promising me a date. Just looking at the ugly, clumsy pages and the hideous, distracting clutter and noise, you’d think that no one in their right mind would want to use the thing—but obviously, it’s thriving.

Too bad it’s throwing more money into the pockets of the wretched Rupert Murdoch.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    You only just discovered that there’s money to be made in crap? My word, Morris must be even more isolated than I thought. ;) This country is covered knee deep in profitable crap.

  2. Steve LaBonne says

    Does anybody know where PZ could find a good troll who is, uh, actually clever?

  3. MorpheusPA says

    Does anybody know where PZ could find a good troll who is, uh, actually clever?

    BWAH-HA-HA! Ten point zero, a Perfect Score!

    This country is covered knee deep in profitable crap.

    You got that right, Mister LaBonne. Everybody, turn off the TV. Read a book. Garden. Go for a walk. Whatever.

    Totally OT, but I’m working on The Ancestor’s Tale and finding it fascinating. I already read Endless Forms Most Beautiful and understood most of it (I’ll schedule for a re-read in a bit), and have his The Making of the Fittest up and coming next.

    Can anybody suggest a not-too-technical book that I might enjoy (and understand) after these?

    Thanks much!


  4. CalGeorge says

    I’ve gave up on t.v. because of excess advertising. I don’t watch PBS much anymore – the advetising bothers me.

    I don’t think I would like MeMeMeLookAtMe!Space.

    I can barely stand to read the Washington Post online because of those humongous ads they shove in your face on the main page.

    I don’t like ads.

    I don’t like the compromises people make to hawk crap via advertising.

    I don’t like the falsity they convey.

    I don’t like the America they convey.

    I don’t admire the people who make money off of them.

    Ads suck.

  5. abeja says

    Does anybody know where I could find a good science blog that is, uh, you know, about SCIENCE?

    Yes, as a matter of fact I do!

    It’s a science blog, and it’s about, you know, SCIENCE! Plus, as an added bonus, it has lots of other fun content too! Many topics that are of interest to atheists, even, egad, non-science atheists, like myself, are discussed here. What more can you ask for?

    The sarcastic tone of your comment leads me to believe that you have a problem with the fact that this blog discusses non-scientific material (the nerve!). If you want to find a blog that discusses ONLY science, that’s your choice, of course. But PZ posts about other things as well–and that’s HIS choice. Apparently this blog doesn’t suit your needs. But suggesting that there is something inherently wrong with this blog just because there are other topics discussed is ridiculous. Where is it a rule that a science blog ONLY has to be about science?

  6. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

    H. L. Mencken

  7. says

    I deleted my previously-neglected MySpace account when the deal signing it over to Rupert Murdoch went through. It’s bizarre to see Leftist groups having pages there, knowing their presence is financially supporting Murdoch’s empire.

  8. says

    Firefox with Adblock plus shows essentially no ads when I hit

    Of course, I actually had to go try because I don’t think I’ve ever been to a myspace site before.

    And as I type this, I see stnemmoc has posted a link to Adblock Plus :)

  9. Ginger Yellow says

    Just because Myspace is taking ad revenue of $25m a month doesn’t mean it’s making any profit. It must be using enormous bandwidth and server capacity to service those millions of free users.

    Morpheus, a non-technical book on what? Evolutionary biology is a big topic. Still, anyone interested in the subject should read Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Just be aware that he’s far more adaptationist than most actual biologists.

  10. The Physicist says

    I have never visited myspace, don’t realy know what it is. But Rupert Murdoch in my opinion is a mean man. He is an opertunist, and has no moral center.

  11. says

    There’s no doubt that MySpace is exceedingly ugly, has a horrible problem with ease-of-use, and is full of ads– but I have to admit, it’s absolutely invaluable to me. I use it to connect with emerging experimental musicians, basically folks who are enjoying the fruits of the bedroom-recording/cdr revolution, but don’t necessarily have a lot of money to put into a website. Without tools like MySpace (and clearly, this isn’t the ONLY tool) I’d have to rely on the slow, lumbering world of corporate labels.

    Besides, if you’re using Firefox (and you SHOULD!) and have Adblock installed, you don’t see many ads at all. I never even saw the History Channel ads for Jesus you blogged about– Adblock kills em all for me.

  12. MorpheusPA says

    Morpheus, a non-technical book on what?

    Good question, GY, and I wish I were far enough along to give you an answer that would make sense. Although I suppose that’s an answer in and of itself–generalist books, not horribly technical, that might lead me in a specific direction that could interest me.

    Let’s just say generalist books and leave it at that…

    I’ll grab a copy of DDI, thanks!


  13. says

    I still think that Facebook will eventually overtake Myspace as the social networking giant. It has a much cleaner look, a more efficient system, cooler features, and less intrusive ads. The only thing that myspace has going for it is the fact that indie bands can upload their songs onto it.

    I have a myspace page but never even bothered filling out my profile. On a daily basis I get spam “friend’ requests from women trying to direct me to their websites “to see their nudes.”

    Most myspace profiles look like the old badly-designed geocities sites from the 90s. The only thing they have going for them is that they already have so many people signed up for it, so more hapless teenagers jump in on the bandwagon.

    –Simon Owens

  14. Steve LaBonne says

    Morpheus, to make it easier to read books like Endless Forms Most Beautiful, you might want to read a good introduction to the basics of molecular biology / genetics. Here’s one I bought for my daughter that I thought was pretty good:

  15. G. Tingey says


    Crusher of the workers at Wapping?
    Nasty little Aussie who crawls up the gerontocracy in CHina, and aids in suppressing free speech in that country?
    Who NEVER mentions the Dalai Lama?
    Who runs the most ghastly slum-reading no-newspaper called “the Sun” in the UK
    (Here: – warning, it is really bad… )

    etc ….

  16. says

    The lesson to be learned is that advertisers with money to spend will throw their advertising dollars at anything which claims to be “the next big thing” and this year it’s about customization of the web it seems. As for the nearly nekkid girls on the dating ads, I can almost feel them undressing me as I log on to MySpace.

  17. Evan says

    I’m not sure what the issue is. Each profile page has a single banner ad at the top, that’s it. So there is rather less advertizing on a standard myspace page than there is on, say, this page.

    Yes, the layout is ugly, and some people put distracting animations and such, but it’s hard to argue that the ad load is overwhemling.

  18. Rey Fox says

    Myspace is worse than Geocities because it takes even more work out of the process by having a template that can be filled. On Geocities, you either had to know a little HTML or use their WYSIWYG editor (which was torture on anything less than the fastest connection). Myspace is more cluttered because of all the automated content, and it’s not just one person creating horrid content, but all their friends posting bulletins and whatever on their pages.

    That being said, it’s obvious why people use it. Cheap social networking. It may not be your favorite social model (I don’t use it either), but it’s a way to “meet” a lot of people (many of them actually local) in a short amount of time.

    Oh, and there’s the celebrity factor too, you’re on what is, at the theoretical base, on a level playing field with the leading luminaries of our day, like Hal Sparks. Some of those shining stars even spend more than five minutes a month on their Myspace pages. It’s now become de rigeur to have a page there, and if you see anyone whom you might not otherwise expect to be there, then it might simply be because they need to stake a claim on their name to avoid people impersonating them.

  19. Ben says

    There’s a whole huge list of things that I thought were horribly done and wouldn’t make any money… that went on to be sold for billions. Basically if I think it sucks horribly… it’s going to be huge.

  20. says


    Then you are a national treasure! You’ll never be happy looking at the world outside your window, but soon enough you’ll be rich enough that you’ll never have to.


  21. Sonja says

    MySpace is for people too stupid or lazy to learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, SQL, MySQL, XML, .NET, PHP, VBScript, AJAX, C#, IIS, Apache, Coldfusion, Dreamweaver, or Photoshop.

  22. Thinker says

    Morpheus (and everyone else, of course):

    I would recommend Matt Ridley’s book Genome. It’s a great read about who we humans are as a species and how we have come to be that way, as evidenced by our common “autobiography” – our 23 chromosomes.

  23. Carlie says

    I finally succumbed to myspace because most all of my family is on it. It’s an easy way to keep track of a dozen or so far-flung cousins at once.

  24. Peter Ellis says

    I quite like that sort of pages, assuming it’s not so hideously overloaded as to make it unusable for its main purpose.

    Why do I like it? Because I win.

    I have never bought anything from the advertisers, and I never will. That means they’re paying to flaunt themselves at me, and getting nothing from me in return. Every time I open the page, I get that little frisson of satisfaction at having made them waste their time and money.

  25. raj says

    Doesn’t everyone ignore ads on web pages? I certainly do. I never could understand the advertising-based web business model.

  26. MorpheusPA says

    Thanks for the recommdations! I’ve expanded my book list by a few months at least…