MSN SA tries to regain traction with upgrade as Nielsen restates stats
MSN has always been the biggest invisible brand in South Africa’s digital content space. The default home page for millions of Internet Explorer users, local Hotmail and Window Live Messenger users have also received significant exposure to the content portal. It had become, according to MSN senior editor Justin Zehmke, little more than a compulsory stop on the way to another online property.
This Zehmke and his team hopes to change in the year ahead since Kagiso Media took over management of the site last year. A name change, to Howzit.MSN.com, and a redesign have been the first steps in a strategy Zehmke believes will turn default traffic into a real readership. Howzit is a popular greeting in SA.
Content is once again being localised and the user experience improved with the integration of Facebook, Twitter and Messenger into the site. So far, page views of the news channel have grown from 250 000 to 3.8 million a month between the time of the Kagiso takeover and January 2011. Page views on the business section have increased from 25 000 to 800 000 and the local celeb channel, ZAlebs, has gone from zero to 300 000 page impressions a month.
It’s a small team of three driving the site, which relies heavily on wire copy, but Zehmke hopes more top-line content by a network of freelancers will lift the quality of the site. He expects to launch a number of new channels in the year ahead, including a dedicated cricket channel plus ones covering travel and motoring, among others.
On the revenue front, ad spend is growing, thanks to the help of Kagiso’s sales agency DigitalMark.
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