Microsoft’s news and entertainment portal MSN wants to add UK regional newspaper content to its MSN Local site, integrating papers’ feeds with with its postcode-searchable map. The service, which came out of beta testing a month ago, shows local crime, schools and political data but lacks the vital news content it needs to give it stickiness.
The site’s executive producer Peter Bale tells Telegraph.co.uk: We are hoping to take feeds from local newspapers and tag every piece of information to a map. Hyper-local news online has never been more important and we think this is a really interesting growth area.”
Will newspapers get paid for MSN aggregating their content? Possibly, according to Bale, although he floats the idea that papers will simply benefit from increased traffic from links back to their coverage. Crisis-hit local papers are far more reticent than their national counterparts in signing online syndication deals — national brand impact hardly has much impact on revenue– so publishers may look on MSN’s offer with skepticism if traffic is the only incentive.
As for MSN, like other big league online publishers it needs area-specific editorial content to attract users and build its local business revenue stream — it’s telling that MSN Local is housed in the Property section of MSN Money; classified house ads are provided through a white label partnership with PropertyFinder.
Hyperlocal is shaping up to the buzzword of the summer: Associated Northcliffe Digital’s Local People project launched earlier this month, but taps into user-generated reviews and news instead of professional content to generate classified and display ads from smaller high street businesses.