Microsoft’s MSN teamed with media company BermanBraun Interactive to create Wonderwall, an online destination for entertainment and celebrity information and photos. MSN has also partnered with MediaVest, which will bring in advertising and sponsorship deals to the site at a later date.
Wonderwall.com, which launched in beta this week, was designed to give users a magazine-like experience with a horizontal-scrolling interface filled with photos, videos, and information on celebrities. The display is divided into segments almost as if multiple screens occupy the space, jumbotron-like. On that space photos of celebrities can be clicked to display features such as “Geek Goddesses,” “Celebritweets,” and “Famous Freekouts.” The latter features a pictorial of the “10 Craziest Celebrity Freakouts,” seeking to ride the buzz generated by Christian Bale’s recent meltdown on the set of “Terminator Salvation.”
Ad formats will be designed to suit the site’s unique layout. Meanwhile standard banner ads for Kraft’s Crystal Light could be spotted today on an article about Jessica Simpson’s recent behavior during a concert. Kraft beverage brands is a client of MediaVest, and Microsoft confirmed Kraft Crystal Light was an advertiser that signed on through MediaVest.
“Our hope is that the ad experiences are focused around that architecture, drive it, not around a standalone unit,” said Pam Zucker, EVP marketplace ignition at MediaVest USA. “[Ads should] enhance functionality, enhance volume and interactivity, not disparate messages.”
“MSN has been in the entertainment space. It’s been difficult to find celebrity information; we felt there was still more we could do there,” said Karin Muskopf, MSN product manager. The product team was “really focused on the UI, we were looking at this as a design for consumers and what’s going to make them happy and interactive for them.”
MSN recruited Alex Blagg, former founding editor of VH1’s “Best Week Ever” blog to lead the editorial of Wonderwall. He keeps the tone of the site. “There are a lot of competitor sites. [our tone] is a little bit edgy, thought provoking, and funny, yet still…respectful,” said Muskopf.
Note: The story has been updated to include information about a Kraft Crystal Light ad running on the Wonderwall site.
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