New MSN’s Local Edition Trumps Papers

I wrote about the MSN homepage relaunch at SEL last week. There I mentioned that there was extensive local content as part of a “Local Edition” section. Circling back now, I have to say Microsoft has done a very nice job integrating a broad and useful range of local information here into a relatively deep content area. Although it surfaces local newspaper stories, it’s essentially a replacement for a local paper (with the exception of newspaper features content):

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Notice the contextually and geographically targeted ad inventory on these pages. Eventually this all will make it into mobile.

None of Microsoft’s immediate competitors has something comparable. You can get news, sports, movies and traffic information — the same content — from all of them. However the experience is disconnected or verticalized. AOL’s MapQuest Local is probably only thing that’s comparable in terms of its “horizontal” nature and maybe iGoogle; however these pages require (or permit) users to set up the various content modules they’re interested in. (I’m a fan of MapQuest Local.)

Local is one of the “four strategic verticals” that Microsoft is emphasizing with Bing. Along those lines, I had an interesting conversation with Microsoft’s Kevin Hagwell the other day about local and it was apparent that they’re doing some very interesting thinking about it at Microsoft.

Take a look and let me know whether you think MSN has created a winner.

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38 Responses to “New MSN’s Local Edition Trumps Papers”

  1. Perry Says:

    Did what you suggested, Greg, and clicked on Denver.

    Gotta say, for Denver, it was WAY off the mark.
    – local news was a terrible mishmash, compared it to DenverPost, and the level of “local feel” is night and day. No local character or voice.
    – Clicked on Restaurants, the first listing was Brown Palace, a prominent downtown hotel. It got worse, clicked on the info link for Brown Palace, and was presented with a BAD mash-up of content on the Hotel with attributes of Cuisine. Reviews were for of the hotel, not the (unnamed restaurant in the hotel). Hours of Ops showing 0:00 to 0:00. Gimme a break.

    – Clicked on “See All” in restaurants, and listing Number One was H&R Block. Not very appetizing!

    Sorry, if it can’t cut it on the basics like local news and restaurants, it ain’t ready for prime time…

    that’s my first reaction. nowhere near close to interesting to me locally.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Fair enough. I didn’t do a detailed drill down. I was impressed that they had brought together all this content in what appears to be a very user-friendly way.

    But quality does count. Agree.

  3. Perry Says:

    Understand. I had actually been hoping for more. I like where Bing has gone, and think there is a lot of room for more MS to go into really interesting directions with creative/deep integration of maps, image search and real-time feeds (to name a couple of things they have the horsepower to accomplish).

    The US is nice and clean/fresh, but locals are able to sense “local voice”, and with the kind of things going on at Examiner.com, Outside.in and even MQ/Portal these days, it has to step up on taking more advantage of the core stuff.

    Maybe next iteration?

  4. MSN: Bing’s Not-So-Secret Weapon Says:

    [...] the very nice “features” of MSN is the “local edition” area, which contains news and other local information. The Local Edition now will include news and video content from NBC Local Media and Hearst [...]

  5. Year In Review: Local Search & Maps Says:

    [...] Despite a continued lack of respect from traditional media, the future looks extremely bright for hyperlocal bloggers, thanks to some major distribution deals inked in the second half of the year. Hyperlocal hotbed Seattle is blossoming thanks to its community’s collaboration with the Seattle Times. Nationwide, deals between MSNBC and Everyblock, as well as Bing’s Local Lens project show that Microsoft is clearly moving in a local direction. [...]

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