MySpace Users To Get Avatars, Virtual Goods With Meez Integration

Another add-on aimed at keeping MySpace’s loyal users engaged and away from Facebook: The social network is integrating teen-centric virtual world Meez into its platform, giving members the ability to create avatars, play games and party together in a 3D-virtual environment. Meez Nation runs in Java, so MySpace users can interact without needing to download any additional software. The integration will support Meez’ existing ad units, which include video pre-rolls and banners; CEO John Cahill said the company “hasn’t yet had the conversation” with MySpace about an ad rev-share.

Meez will also be able to make money through virtual goods sales, as the MySpace integration supports “Coinz,” the company’s virtual currency. Meez users can customize their avatars with accessories that are usually priced in the $1-$3 range; the company sells pre-paid Coinz cards at stores like Target and Best Buy, and users can also earn the currency by playing ad-supported games. Cahill said virtual goods represented about 30 percent of the company’s revenue stream, a figure he expects will steadily increase. Cahill took the reins as CEO of Meez and parent company Donnerwood Entertainment in January; he said the company has been profitable for six months.

So why bring the Meez Nation to MySpace and not to the more popular — and currently, more third-party app friendly — Facebook?

User demographics: Cahill said a “significant” number of Meez’ three million unique monthly users actively visit MySpace; the virtual world’s predominately female, teen audience is also closer to MySpace’s target demo than Facebook’s. He also suggested that the similarities in the way people use MySpace vs. Facebook made the former a better choice for the integration. “Many people use Facebook to stay in touch with real friends; MySpace is more about discovery — meeting new people that like the same music, movies or games that you do. Meez Nation creates a similar friend-discovery space.”

Content consumption: Recent Nielsen data pegged MySpace as the top social-networking property in terms of video streams, proof that its members are among some of the heaviest consumers of online video content. This is a boon for Meez, since much of the company’s ad revenue stems from video pre-rolls. For example, Cahill said the trailer for Warner Bros’ animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars, generated upwards of 50,000 views per day when it ran as part of a campaign in Meez Nation.

Branching out to other networks, and a plan for mobile: Meez wants to get the MySpace integration launched first, but Cahill said the platform is built with the OpenSocial API, so the company plans to bring Meez Nation to other networks that support that programming language. He said the company has a mobile app that lets users buy and send avatar greetings, but “it’s very 1.0.” There are plans to develop a more robust mobile offering — though he gave no time frame.