MSN has extended its mobile offering with a new iPad app, mirroring the format of its redesigned website with five different channels.
The site is already available on mobile, PC and Xbox, and MSN says the free iPad app is part of a plan to bring its content to as wide an audience as possible.
MSN, which has 27.3m unique users per month, revamped its site in December to focus on live coverage and original content – there are now five channels: news, sport, entertainment, lifestyle and cars.
MSN executive producer Peter Clifton said that the original content is a powerful tool for his ad sales team.
I think there’s a lot of things we have day-to-day that other people have, we’ve good quality content that’s presented very well, but we have to show people what we have that’s different. A great cross-section of original content is really powerful for the sales team and good for advertisers as well.”
Central to the new app are the additional opportunities for advertisers. Clifton said the ad formats will include banner placement, video pre-roll ads and video sponsorship.
MSN has also moved to closely integrate social media into its mobile offering – so much so that new hire Darren Waters has been brought in as head of both social media and devices. Waters explains:
I think the fact that mobile and social are in one role shows that they will work hand-in-hand together. It’s about taking all the things that work on social and seeing how they work on mobile.”
MSN has over 40,000 fans across its Facebook pages and 100,000 Twitter followers, and the app allows sharing through both sites.
Waters said that when he joined MSN, staff were already integrating social into their day-to-day roles, so he has not had to overhaul working practices but is instead working to find new ways that social media can be used to engage with its audience.
The challenge for the first three to five years of social media was building an audience and talking to them – the challenge now is harnessing the conversations and how you fold that into what you are doing. There will be so much social activity around the Olympics, so it’s about making sure you are a part of that conversation.”
MSN’s refocus on channels mirrors YouTube’s recent overhaul, but Clifton said the idea is not to challenge traditional broadcasters but instead to make sure they are giving users a truly multimedia experience and telling stories in whichever is the best format.
We are stepping up in terms of videos as it’s a very important side of what we should be doing – we have doubled the size of our team and are trying to push original video. We can attract big names for interview and get exclusives, so we are trying to make sure we have video content well presented across all platforms.”
He said MSN’s presence on Xbox LIVE, which Microsoft has redesigned as an all-in-one entertainment hub, is key to the company’s strategy going forward as connected TV becomes a more prominent tool for media consumption.
Xbox is our first priority. We want to see that bed in, see how people interact with that content and ensure we have the best model we can offer. So once that’s settled we are sure to look at other opportunities further afield and see where we can use our content best. But if you look at the way media consumption is changing, it is clear that connected TV is going to be a key area.”