Rumors: News Corp. Ready To Sell FAN

Rumors are swirling that News Corp. is ready to unload its online advertising arm, the Fox Audience Network.

News Corp. has reportedly been considering a sale for nearly a year, but only just began talking with potential suitors.

On Monday, Warren Kay, vice president of the Fox Audience Network, was asked if "his boss" planned to sell MySpace. "No comment," Kay said before sitting in on a panel at the BIA/Kelsey conference in San Diego.

News Corp. is considering an outright sale or a spin-off of FAN, according to industry blog paidContent.

On Monday, Kay went on to tell conference attendees that FAN drives off data that optimizes inventory against News Corp., and about 800 non-owned and operated publishers.

FAN works on a traditional ad network revenue share model, and competes for inventory against other providers, Kay explained. The network can put a pixel on a publisher's Web site, which can tell them a lot about their audience based on FAN's "fan panel."

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The data is then segmented into a couple of thousand audience segments. Kay added that FAN is planning to segment the data for small businesses in the future.

Fox Audience Network has about 84 million unique users that are owned and operated by News Corp., as well as about 160 million unique users that the company distributes ads against and, in one way or another, collects data, Kay said.

FAN reportedly takes in between $100 million and $150 million in revenue, but Kay did not specify on Monday.

Complicating a possible sale, however, is the continually worsening state of MySpace. Once a digital darling courted by industry kings, the site has since lost its way under the reign of Facebook.

Approximately half of FAN revenue is said to come from third party sites, while the other half comes from News Corp.-owned digital properties like MySpace.

In News Corp. earnings last month, the company reported that digital media earnings were down $32 million compared to a year earlier.

EMarketer predicts that ad spending at MySpace will fall 21% this year to $385 million worldwide. What's worse, the $900 million shared ad revenue deal between MySpace and Google is scheduled to expire in August.

Last month, MySpace came up with new product strategy under the slogan "Discover and be Discovered." The strategic shift came on the heels of CEO Owen Van Natta's removal, and the subsequent promotions of Mikes Jones and Jason Hirschhorn to co-presidents.

According to sources, parent company News Corp's Digital Chief Jon Miller said Van Natta "wasn't moving fast enough and that there was too much conflict among the executive team."

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