MSN local offering expands with Windows Live and Facebook integration, improved search and mapping, and reviews of more than 5,000 U.S. cities.
The new MSN City Guides features a new design, integrated Live Search and Live Search Maps, video, content-sharing and more. It offers a range of features to help people explore, make plans and share information with their friends. Specifically, new integration with popular social networking services such as Windows Live and Facebook makes planning a snap, allowing people to organize events or get-togethers with a few clicks.
“The new MSN City Guides puts city life at your fingertips,” said Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer, MSN. “All the information you need about a city or neighborhood is there — easy to find, easy to use, easy to share. Our goal is to deliver the best resource for navigating U.S. cities, whether you’re a die-hard local or just visiting.”
Key enhancements of MSN City Guides include the following:
|•||Modern site design. The new City Guides features an entirely new look with inline video and customized themes for the top 30 U.S. markets. While users in Seattle will see the Space Needle and Mount Rainier, those in New York will see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and other landmarks.|
|•||Live Search Maps integration. Live Search Maps is integrated throughout the site — making it easy to find a restaurant or event and get one-click directions. Users can select a road, aerial or bird’s-eye view,2 and track their recently viewed businesses and events that automatically populate in the home page module, My Summary.|
|•||Enhanced local search results. People can now get relevant local results for every ZIP code in the country, and easily explore the site through improved Live Search capabilities. For activities, users can categorize results by relevance, date, type or distance, and restaurants by neighborhood, popularity, feature or category.|
|•||Personalization. Users can create a profile page, using Windows Live ID, which will allow them to plan upcoming trips, track their favorite places, and store Live Search Maps collections and photos. Windows Live friends can also share their favorite restaurants and recommendations.|
|•||Learn and share. City Guides offers a rich community to learn from and share with. It offers expert sources and user reviews, including reviews from Yelp, Citysearch and Judy’s Book. Users can also easily publish reviews or share a review with friends on Facebook.|
|•||Build a reputation. People who contribute a great deal of reviews and local knowledge can establish themselves as experts. The more knowledge they contribute, the higher their rank — ranging from City Newbie to City Champ.|
|•||Make plans. The integrated Activity Finder makes it easy to locate the best a city has to offer — restaurants, movies, shopping, family fun, sports and recreation, and more. Once plans are made, users can easily share them with others.|
MSN Investing in Growing Local Category
With the changing dynamics of the media industry, more people are getting the majority of their information online. People are craving more interaction with their community, and online local information is still a major growth opportunity. According to Forrester Research, only 31 percent of online consumers use an Internet directory to find local businesses today and 34 percent of online consumers use search engines as a resource for local business listings.
The new launch of MSN City Guides and recent hiring of Cyrus Krohn, who is responsible for leading the programming strategy for MSN local efforts, reflect important steps toward a deep investment in localized Web offerings.
“We believe the industry has only scratched the surface of this key category, which is relevant to everyone online,” Moore said. “Delivering a rich, relevant and compelling local offering that consumers care deeply about is a great opportunity for MSN. People want this information, and we’re going to keep working on new and innovative ways to give it to them.”