MySpace could lure the majority of heavy users from Google and other big portals, according to JupiterResearch’s "21st Century Portals: Thriving in the Google-MySpace Era" report.
The report claims that 55% of the users most likely to pay for services could be swayed by an entertainment and communication combination like MySpace.
"Right now, portals like Yahoo, AOL, and MSN dominate online usage and, together with Google, collect 55% of US online ad spending," reported David Card of Jupiter. "For a long-tail market, the Internet is pretty concentrated at the head."
Communication and video are prime draws for MySpace users, but does that mean that users of other portals want those same offerings? Are all portals fundamentally alike, easily exchanged by visitors and advertisers?
From the audience point of view, as measured by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (conducted with ForeSee Results), US consumers expressed more satisfaction with Google than Yahoo!, AOL or MSN. And they claimed more satisfaction with all portals other than AOL, MSN and Yahoo! That includes second-tier portals like Lycos, Excite, Univision and Netscape.
Within each portal, the most visited subdomains describe the most popular offerings. For AOL, that’s instant messaging; but for MSN and Yahoo!, that’s e-mail. Meanwhile, if you define a portal as a gate opening to somewhere else, Google might be more pure portal than the other three large sites, according to Quantcast.
Just as the frequent and regular use of e-mail communication helps boost portal traffic, so can instant messaging. Heavy Internet users are far more likely to use IM than social networks, podcasts or RSS feeds, according to a Universal McCann study conducted with Insight Express.
As the most buzzed-about type of Internet content, video has become a major competitive differentiator among the portals. Next to YouTube (a Google division) and TV network sites, the video sections of the top portals are prime destinations where US adult Internet users watch video content, according to Piper Jaffray.
The portals’ video success has been due mainly to "licensing content from big entertainment companies," as The Wall Street Journal has reported. "How much longer those companies will agree to license their content isn’t clear: Film studios and TV networks are both plunging into the Web more directly, eager to stop Web video from being dominated by the portals."
eMarketer Senior Analyst David Hallerman notes that even MySpace’s wealth of entertainment content doesn’t count the portals out on this front.
"As long as the portals can deliver a fair cut of advertising revenue," said Mr. Hallerman, "TV networks and movie studios will likely be willing to license at least some of their content. Monetizing such content is not always easy, and in this case the broad reach of the portals can make a key difference."