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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MySpace Set to Begin Networking in Russian

MySpace, the social networking site owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is planning to roll out a Russian-language version in a bid to capitalize on the country's fast-growing Internet advertising business.

"We will be launching a Russian version of MySpace to make it even easier for Russians to express themselves, discover new culture and connect with their friends," Travis Katz, managing director of MySpace International, said in e-mailed comments Monday.

"We're in the early stages of preparing for a launch and will be confirming our plans soon," he said.

Last month, MySpace advertised on the business-focused social networking site LinkedIn, calling for applications for a Russia-based marketing director to "define the MySpace brand in Russia."

But any attempts to improve local awareness of MySpace, which already has around 20 language versions, including French, German and Japanese, may prove problematic in the near term.

Alexa Internet, which collects information on global web traffic, currently ranks MySpace in 55th place in Russia.

MySpace's push into Russia follows hard on the heels of similar moves by Google and Microsoft, both of which already have a significant foothold in the local market.

Analysts said MySpace's competitive advantage lies in coming into a market with mainly weak players.

Vitaly Kupeyev, an analyst at Alfa Bank, said that although the online advertising market being targeted by MySpace was a fast-growing segment, it still makes up as little as 2 percent of the market. "A lot depends on MySpace's marketing strategies," Kupeyev said.

The country's online social networking market is currently dominated by a varied assortment of web sites, including MoiKrug and Vkontakte.ru.

Kupeyev said the projection for Internet advertisement for 2012 was a mere 5 percent of the total ad market.

Not all social networking web sites in Russia are struggling, however, and some may prove a tough challenge for their foreign peers.

Vkontakte.ru, which claims 2 million users, was set up in 2006 by two brothers, Pavel and Nikolai Durov, as a national catalogue of high-school students and is now ranked third most visited site in Russia by Alexa Internet.

But Yandex-owned MoiKrug, a social networking site for professionals similar to LinkedIn, ranks only 95th in Alexa Internet's listing.

Yandex editor Yelena Kolmanovskaya welcomed MySpace's plans to develop a Russian language version and said the site would not come into "direct competition with MoiKrug."

Konstantin Belov, media analyst at UralSib, said MySpace's established brand and well-honed technology could give it a competitive edge.

Another factor working in favor of foreign social networking sites is that most local sites have so far failed to make an impact because of weak technological solutions and organizational shortcomings.

"There are many social networking sites, such as Mail.ru and MoiKrug, that have so far failed to catch on," Kupeyev said. "This is fertile ground for foreign investors."