MSNBC.com Looks For Promotional Value In Pulse News Reader

Pulse MSNBC.com on iPhone

MSNBC.com will get a featured position on the opening page of mobile social reader Pulse, as the news website continues to explore ways of getting its breaking news out in front of younger reader, more tech-savvy readers.

The arrangement is strictly promotional — there’s no revenue sharing or fees involved. So while it doesn’t directly move Pulse’s ability to make money at the moment, it does give it a chance to further test its value as a promotional vehicle. Assuming it can incrementally increase MSNBC.com’s traffic, Pulse can then credibly charge for providing a marketing boost or even become a worthwhile ad partner.

In MSNBC.com, Pulse has a partner that is particularly committed to raising its social media profile. For the past four years, MSNBC.com has done a mix of deals and purchases designed to connect it to a wider audience through social media.

Back in 2007, MSNBC.com did its first acquisition, buying social news site Newsvine. In 2009, it made two major purchases: the first being hyperlocal news aggregator EveryBlock in August of that year, and then, first, BNO News, operator of the popular @BreakingNews Twitter feed and the — since defunct as of last summer — BNO iPhone app.

And like just about every major news brand, MSNBC.com has also turned to Facebook.

But how much of a practical boost can MSNBC.com expect to derive from Pulse? It’s clear that every little bit helps. As a New York Times survey that looked at how people share content indicated, it appears most rely on e-mail as opposed to Facebook and Twitter. And Pulse does have an e-mail button alongside those other two social sharing options.

As Vivian Schiller, the new chief digital officer for NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) News, said in a statement about the Pulse partnership, “it is critical that we serve our audiences regardless of what platform or device they are using,” it’s simply a matter of being where the readers are.

And Pulse is definitely growing. Since debuting last fall, the app has been downloaded 4 million times. After brief tiff with the NYT that got the app pulled from Apple’s iTunes Store, media companies have started to see the value in services like Pulse. Even if they’re not sure what the precise value is yet. Release

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