MSN Overhauls Local City Guides Site; Will The New Features Resonate?

image In the battle for the local online market, AOL (NYSE: TWX) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) are going with a model that is heavy on listings and ratings. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is trying a different tack. The company is rolling out an overhaul of its MSN City Guides site this week, adding several features, including the ability to share activities with others via the site. The goal, according to Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer of MSN: Differentiate the site from competitors. “Everybody has kind of approached this space in a similar way as sort of an entertainment guide,” he said in an interview with “Most don’t have news at all, don’t have weather.”

Moore envisions MSN City Guides as a hub for users to start the day. He calls it an “information dashboard for your life.” “That’s the vision — we’re not there yet — but it moves us in that direction,” Moore said. The new MSN City Guides features a complete redesign, with customized themes for different cities as well as local videos and maps.

Moore said that MSN is doubling down on the local space because the company believes it is underserved online. Microsoft recently hired back Cyrus Krohn to lead the programming strategy for future MSN local efforts. Of course, competitors also continue to target that market. MySpace recently partnered with CitySearch to launch MySpace Local, which includes