According to data from GlobalWebIndex, we now spend nearly six hours every day consuming digital media; from the New York Times website to Buzzfeed, YouTube to CNN.com. Thanks to the inexorable rise of mobile – smartphones, tablets, phablets – we consume it everywhere: On the train, in the office, in bed, in the bath.
Significantly, as the physical locations we consume media have multiplied, so too have the contexts that we consume it. Today we can catch up on the latest headlines and analysis in the middle of a meeting, just before we start cooking the evening meal, on our way to a sports game. Each context engenders a different mind-set, and a different style of browsing.
And then, of course, social. Millions of us typically see the morning’s headlines – often with our head still on the pillow, and eyes still blurry – in a Facebook or Twitter newsfeed, not over coffee and cornflakes in front of the TV. After years of carefully pruning our Twitter and Facebook friends, we’re directed to media that our social graph recommends, not an editorial team huddled in an expensive conference room. As a result, consumers have unprecedented choice and control and increasingly expect ultra-relevant content.
In the face of such dizzying change, is it any wonder that the New York Times commissioned its recently-leaked ‘Innovation Report’ into the success of new media outlets like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post? Media outlets everywhere are rushing to understand how digital – in particular social, mobile and analytics – is fundamentally rewiring their audiences’ behaviour.
How can media properties continue to thrive? As media consumption choices widen, we believe it is critical that publishers focus on creating experiences that are more intuitive, more personal and contextually relevant to the individual. We also believe advertisers should follow suit. Engaging ad experiences must inform and entertain but more than anything, be relevant and in context, adding value in the moment to the consumer’s online experience.
It is these firm convictions that prompted Microsoft to reimagine MSN.
We launched the beta version of the new MSN on 8 September to bring together the best of the web from over 1,000 most well-trusted media outlets on the planet, such as International New York Times and The Guardian. Spanning 10 sections including sports, news, health & fitness, money and travel, the new MSN provides consumers with a global perspective from thousands of publishers across the world. For the publishing partners, integrating with MSN guarantees an upsurge in referrals and web traffic.
We’ve made it easy for every user to personalize their MSN experience as they see fit, regardless of the device. You can set up topics to follow the news you care about, decide what to have for dinner from the widest recipe database on earth, set up stock watch lists, and pick the productivity tools that help you get more done. We also integrated access to popular sites like Outlook.com, Facebook, Twitter, OneNote and OneDrive to ensure our users do more and know more. And each user can access MSN and MSN Apps from any device, screen or platform in the future, including iOS and Android.
The revamped MSN adds to the range of platforms we offer advertisers to reach consumers in more mind-sets, seamlessly telling their stories across screens and devices. With premium content and productivity tools, we’re excited about the opportunities MSN provides for brands to connect meaningfully with audiences, regardless of where they are, what device they’re using and what excites them.
Andy Hart is Vice-President Europe at Microsoft Advertising