Bloomberg News

Microsoft’s MSN Aims to Lure Younger Users by Touting Hot Trends

February 17, 2012

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp., trying to attract younger Internet users, is bolstering its MSN site with a service that produces short news synopses based on popular topics on search and social-media sites such as Twitter Inc.

Called msnNOW, the product scans Twitter, Facebook Inc., BreakingNews.com and Microsoft’s own Bing search engine every five minutes. MSN’s staff then create 100-word articles on the news and post them with related video, news and social-media posts. Besides a Web version, msnNOW will have be available on Facebook and mobile devices, MSN General Manager Bob Visse said.

Web portals such as MSN, Yahoo! Inc. and AOL Inc. have struggled to hold on to younger users, who increasingly get their news from social networks. Microsoft is trying to appeal to more people age 25 to 40 by making it easier to view information on the day’s hot topics from multiple sources. MSN typically attracts older customers and more casual Internet users, rather than information junkies, Visse said.

“We skew a little bit older and a little bit lighter usage than we’d like,” he said.

Besides leaning heavily on social-networking sources to win over younger users, msnNOW also is looking to delve into “edgier topics,” Visse said. A demonstration of the product this week featured a piece on “butt cleavage.”

The feature won’t have advertisements at first, though Microsoft will add them in the future, he said. In subsequent versions, the Redmond, Washington-based company also may be able to respond to users’ behavior by tailoring topics and stories to their tastes, Visse said.

“For us to grow in the demographic we want, we have to show something quite different,” he said.

--Editors: Nick Turner, Tom Giles

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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