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):
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.