How Can Marketers Leverage the Features in Microsoft’s New MSN?

Although MSN has been around since 1995, Microsoft has just unveiled a “new MSN.” Built from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world, the new MSN combines comprehensive content from the world’s leading media outlets with powerful tools that can help users do more in categories like News, Sports, Money, Travel, Food and Drink, and Health and Fitness. The new MSN is beginning to roll out today and marketers can preview it at preview.msn.com.

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So, what are MSN’s new features and benefits and how can marketers take advantage of them?

Here are some of the new features:

  • Content: The new MSN is comprehensive and deep, bringing content from some of the most respected media sources from all over the world to one place.
  • Services and Tools: The new MSN is integrated with services, like OneDrive, Office 365, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Skype, to help people manage their digital lives. With a quick hover, users can easily check their email, browse recent OneDrive folders, or even access their OneNote files.
  • Unique to You: The new, cross-platform MSN is simple to personalize. From a user’s favorite sports teams to state politics, the new MSN will reflect their interests.

A First Look at the New MSN

On the Official Microsoft Blog on Microsoft News Center, Brian MacDonald, the corporate vice president (CVP)of information and content experiences at Microsoft, has written a post entitled, “A First Look at the New MSN.” He says, “At the top of the MSN homepage, users have quick access to what we call the Services Stripe. This allows easy access to personal services to stay on top of what’s happening in your life.”

In addition, he says, “The new MSN presents actionable information together with content and personal productivity tools like shopping lists, a savings calculator, a symptom checker, a 3-D body explorer, and more.” The new, cleaner design aims to make it easier for users to find and enjoy content that interests them, and provides the ability to reorder categories and interests to reflect an individual’s tastes, he adds.

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One of the goals of the MSN redesign was to make it simple to personalize what users want to see regardless of which device they use, explains MacDonald. In the upcoming months, MSN will release a suite of apps across iOS and Android to complement the corresponding Windows and Windows Phone apps. Users will only need to set their favorites once, and their preferences will be connected across MSN, Cortana, Bing, and other Microsoft experiences.

The new MSN has partnered with more than 1,000 “authoritative sources,” including:

  • The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, AOL (including TechCrunch and The Huffington Post), and Condé Nast (including Vanity Fair, Epicurious, and Bon Appétit) in the U.S.
  • The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun in Japan; Sky News, The Guardian and the Telegraph in the U.K.; NDTV and Hindustan Times in India; Le Figaro and Le Monde in France; and many more worldwide.

The new MSN enables users to set up topics to follow the news they care about, which is something that Google News users have been able to do since November 2009. For example, MSN users can now track “Game of Thrones” or “Ukraine” and MSN will keep them on top of relevant news – creating a newspaper with sections personalized for them. In addition, when users search for recipes in MSN Food & Drink and find one that they want to prepare, they can convert the ingredients for that recipe into a shopping list that roams to their phone in just one click.

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So, which of these new features will be advantageous to marketers?

The New MSN: Do More With Premium Content, Powerful Tools

On the Microsoft Advertising Blog, Frank Holland, the CVP of Microsoft Advertising, has written a post entitled, “The New MSN: Do More With Premium Content, Powerful Tools.” He says, “Boasting an audience of more than 425 million people across 50 countries, MSN has long been an essential part of peoples’ online lives. Reimagined for a mobile world, the new MSN will help people around the world to connect with the content that most interests them while at the same help them make the most of every minute.”

What does this mean for brands? “Unprecedented access to a loyal audience on a single, personalized, premium platform that combines the massive reach of the Web with the deep engagement of applications across all mobile operating systems,” says Holland.

He continues, “For advertisers looking to tell their story throughout a person’s day, Microsoft’s unified presence across screens enables brands to share the consumer’s journey. We’ve kept the process of buying ads on the new MSN simple – brands can still enjoy ease of purchasing through similar IAB standard units available on previous versions of MSN.”

ClickZ would love to hear what marketers think about the premium content and productivity tools provided by the new MSN. Let us know what you think in the comments area below.

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