"Social networking is no longer restricted to mass-market sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Media players such as Bauer are also climbing over themselves to get a piece of the social networking pie.
Bauer is tapping into this trend by launching Ditto.net, a social network-ing site for film fans and music lovers. The decision to embrace social media and the opportunities it has to offer is a brave one.
Ditto.net certainly looks the part - it is well designed and easy to use. It combines elements of dating sites, community sites and the Amazon-like recommendation model to allow users to discover and share films and music with like-minded people.
However, the success of the site will depend on the number of users it attracts. Bauer is a dominant player in the music and film magazine market, but by entering the social media arena it will suddenly find itself surrounded by a large number of competitors. User numbers for NME.com, Yahoo Music and Radio 1 are huge, and while going niche may be an advantage for Bauer, advertisers will always prefer large user numbers.
I wonder, therefore, whether Bauer is better off launching Ditto.net within an existing social networking property where user numbers will be bigger. The iLike application on Facebook, for example, which lets users add music and videos to their profiles, started life as a stand-alone website struggling to attract significant numbers. When it was launched as an application on Facebook six months later, one million users signed up in the first week alone. If Ditto.net continues as a stand-alone social network, I would like to see Bauer extend advertising options beyond the site itself.
Advertising options that run across a range of channels, including Ditto.net, and Bauer's magazines and TV channels, for example, will deliver more value to both brands and Bauer. After all, the future of such niche social networking sites will depend on the return on investment they deliver to publishers.
Review by Nick Burcher, Board Director, Zed Media"
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