News Corp. (NWS) said Tuesday its MySpace.com Web site will solicit bids from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) to provide the popular youth-oriented network with search-based advertising.
The global media conglomerate run by Rupert Murdoch purchased MySpace, one of the Internet's biggest online hangouts for teens and young adults interested in music, last year for about $580 million.
"We will redesign the pages to make search more prominent," Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp., said of its MySpace.com business. "We will auction off our search business to Google, Yahoo, or MSN."
MySpace has become a focus of investor attention for News Corp.'s media empire, which spans the Fox television and cable news networks as well as the New York Post newspaper, even though it remains a tiny part of the company's operations.
MySpace is being viewed as a testing ground for new media opportunities, particularly efforts to reap advertising dollars from social networking, one of the hottest areas of audience growth online.
Chernin told investors at a Deutsche Bank media conference that the company had just begun to reap financial rewards from MySpace.
"Revenue is growing incredibly quickly," he said in Webcast remarks. "We've just scratched the surface of how to monetize it."
For its well-established Fox television network, News Corp. expects advertising rates to rise about 2 percent to 3 percent during advance "upfront" sales to advertisers now under negotiation, Chernin said.
Both FOXNews.com and MySpace.com are owned and operated by News Corporation.