Business Insights - MSN
by Josh Riches
In order to successfully apply to Microsoft, it’s important that you have an understanding of our products and why they are important to the company. Especially new, exciting products such as Windows 10, Cortana and Azure; these insights from current interns will give you what you need to know!
What is MSN?
Whenever I talk about my job to people around my age the answer is always the same; “MSN Messenger, does that still exist?!?”. The answer is obviously no, followed by a bit of nostalgic banter about the messaging service that was so widely used in 2005..
The fact is that MSN messenger was a small part of something much greater. MSN stands for “Microsoft News” and it is an international news and content experience platform. The site has a mind blowing 400 million unique visitors per month and serves as the default homepage on Internet Explorer and the sign out page for Outlook/Hotmail. MSN exists online and MSN apps across Windows, iOS and Android mobile platforms.
Unique Content Experience
At MSN we want to provide content experiences that allows the user to “Know more, Do more and Be more”. By publishing content across 12 “verticals” or sections in easy terms (Homepage, News, Sport, Money, Cars, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Weather, Entertainment, Video and Travel) we can provide a great experience for people of all interests.
Our content strategy is also a fundamental part of the website’s USP (unique selling point), which is a curation strategy. What is curation in this context? We have partnership agreements with the best publishing partners in each market, for example, Sky, Bloomberg, Reuters; which means we can pull together the best content from across the net in one place.
Not only is the content engaging and reliable, but you can choose who you want to hear it from and gain contrasting opinions for example, what do Parkers have to say about the new Jaguar XE vs. Motoring research. “Single-Publish” is also part of our content strategy, this means that whatever we publish on our site appears across our apps simultaneously.
By signing in to our site, you are then able to set the site up according to your preferences. For example, if you’re like me and love your Sport and Finance News but aren’t so fussed about lifestyle or Travel, you can customise your homepage to only show the content that you really need.
I can also set up a favourites list in Sport to make it easier to keep up with my favourite clubs and competitions, I won’t mention what they are as I wouldn’t want you to stop reading when you discover what they are.
Why is MSN so important to Microsoft?
As previously stated, MSN experiences a HUGE amount of traffic. This is unbelievable exposure for Microsoft as a whole. The “Me Stripe” at the top of the landing page brings together some of the best of Microsoft’s services allowing easy access to Outlook, Skype, Onedrive and OneNote, as well as quick links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
It is essentially a vital portal to Microsoft’s services, and key to leveraging Bing’s market share.
Where doI fit in?
I am a ‘Program Manager’ for MSN UK, Canada and Ireland, responsible for the ‘Cars’ and ‘Money’ verticals. I am responsible for helping to ensure our money and cars sites are a best-in-class user experience for our market. I do this by driving product improvements, such as new interactive tools and implementing different modules within the site; I measure site performance and user satisfaction in order to support my decision making.
I also sit as part of a wider team of PM’s for Cars/Money internationally, in weekly meetings we’re briefed on changes and developments to the vertical as a whole and actions we need to take to implement these changes for our market. This also helps idea sharing and problem solving, as other people in this wider international team may have experienced and solved your problems before.
Remember what I said about curated content right? I am also responsible for ensuring our content partner’s content arrives on our site, usually through RSS feeds or API (don’t ask). This involves partner management, supporting their technical teams and setting out specifications, I’m not techie at all, but there is a lot of resources available to help me manage any problems that may arise.