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MySpace gets 'Hyper' with targeted ads

News Corp.-owned social-networking site attempts to one-up Facebook by announcing the next phase of its targeted advertising program a day earlier., a high-profile player in Google's new OpenSocial developer project, isn't willing to let Facebook get away with stealing the week's big advertising headlines.

The News Corp.-owned social-networking site announced Monday morning that it has completed the first phase of a new advertising program it calls "HyperTargeting," which uses the information that members put in their profiles to serve up ads they might actually want to see.

MySpace initially began its HyperTargeting program in July, dividing its users into groups of "enthusiasts" in 10 categories (music, movies, personal finance, gaming, consumer electronics, sports, travel, auto, fashion, and fitness) and catering the advertising to those segments. "Performance increases for brands on the HyperTargeting platform were as high as 300 percent compared to demographically targeted campaigns," a statement from MySpace claimed.

Some of the 50-plus advertisers in the first phase of the advertising program have been Procter & Gamble, Microsoft's Xbox, Ford, Toyota, XM Satellite Radio, and film studios Universal Pictures, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight.

With the second phase of HyperTargeting, those 10 "enthusiast" categories have been expanded into more than 100 subcategories--so instead of simply singling out "movie fans," the targeting intelligence could use profile information to pick out science-fiction fans. So far, this has only been released on MySpace's U.S. site, but early next year it will expand to its international versions.

"Our mission...was to build an ad platform that translates our massive amounts of self-expressed user data into highly targeted, interest-based segments, enabling us to better serve the exact right ad to the right person at the right time," said Michael Barrett, chief revenue officer for MySpace parent division Fox Interactive Media.

But logging into MySpace, I don't see a whole lot of "targeting." The home page is covered in student credit-card advertisements, which is odd because I don't think my profile provides any indication that I've been a student recently. On my profile, I saw Google advertisements for New York apartments, a Christian dating service, acne medication, and diet pills.

OK, the first one is relevant, but the other three...I'm not so sure about.

If MySpace's HyperTargeting is trying to tell me I need a full-out makeover and a new G-rated romance, um, I'm not listening.