MySpace as advertising platform

As I noted in in my earlier post about the new Crass book, MySpace is increasingly being used as an advertising platform for all sorts of products.

MySpace has always (as long as I recall, anyway) been seen as a good way for independent bands to get information and music out there, but it’s now used by mainstream commercial bands too, bands with million dollar advertising budgets via their labels. I looked at Billboard’s mainstream rock chart and found MySpace pages for nine out of ten of the bands. The remaining band may well have one too, but the band is called Disturbed and searching for this on MySpace is a little like searching for “depressed” on Livejournal.

Movie studios are getting in on the action too. There’s a product placement account for the new Will Farrell movie Talladega Nights, and it has 1,192 “friends” listed (and, sadly, it looks just as bad as every other MySpace page I’ve ever seen). I’ve seen other ads like this too, so this is not new or unique to this movie.

This kind of thing makes perfect sense from an advertiser’s perspective. Once they’ve got a large list of people listing one of their ads, they can then send “bulletins” — messages to everyone on their friends list — with other ads. MySpace spamming, basically, except that it isn’t really spamming because people are willingly signing up for it by listing advertisements as friends.

What I don’t understand is why someone would list a commercial as a “friend”. I’m not even talking about some sort of viral marketing thing where it isn’t immediately known that something is not a real person; these are very clearly commercial advertisements. What do MySpace users gain from it?