The Creative Possibilities Are Endless With the New MSN UK

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The newly re-launched MSN UK presents advertisers with an incredible canvas for creativity & design. In fact, design was at the heart of all the changes made to the site, ensuring MSN’s new editorial ethos around original content & editorial opinion, site navigation & content signposting and social & cross platform strategies are all offered in the best possible light.

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A streamlined design and strong use of white space on the MSN page enables both the editorial promotional units and the ad format to really have prominence.

Increasing the range of creative formats available for advertisers

In addition, in line with the re-launch of MSN, there have been great strides made in increasing the range of creative formats available for advertisers. The over-riding principles of the experience we aim to give our readers on MSN is one that is informative, innovative, social and fun and we feel that the range of ad formats available enable our advertisers to contribute to that experience.

Over the past four months we have launched three new ad formats for homepage takeovers which offer fantastic opportunities for creativity.


First up we launched the Filmstrip in August, a brilliant format that encourages deep levels of engagement in a very intuitive style. It has 5 separate panels that the user can scroll through to explore all different types of content. That’s the opportunity for 5 individual creative formats in one execution The 5 panels mean this is actually a 300×3000 pixel ad unit, housed within a 300×600 pixel window. You can take users through the purchase funnel, you can introduce them to 5 different aspects of an individual product or you can showcase 5 different products from a range. Each panel can contain video galleries, image galleries, social network feeds, interactive games or any other type of rich media experience you can think of. Watch a video of Filmstrip



Next, we launched the Billboard in September. This is a huge canvas that sits as not only the largest image on the MSN homepage but also the first image a user will see, sitting above the editorial content, just below our site navigation bar. It offers a perfect extension of any large format offline campaigns, in particular outdoor and press but then, with all things online, it’s up to you how the canvas comes alive with video, games, galleries, and the like to engage users in a format that needs no expansion to give creative agencies the space to think big! View a Billboard video

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Sliver Pushdown

At the beginning of November, we released our most recent format , the Sliver Pushdown. This is another format that offers a vast amount of creative space and invites but does not interupt. On load it expands to billboard size for a short period of time, giving advertisers the chance to grab their audiences attention via rich media animations, video or galleries and invite then to explore the ad. It then retracts so as not to interrupt the users’ experience, leaving a banner and MPU companion which offer a wonderful hockey stick format in which to display impactful brand images. Of course then, once they have accepted your invite, they can expand and the possibilities for creative execution become numerous once more. Watch out for the first Sliver Pushdown live on the MSN UK homepage 19th December 2011.

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Two new formats coming soon

Microsoft Advertising is extremely proud of these innovative ad developments so far. We think we have a beautiful looking new MSN homepage and strongly believe we have increased the opportunities for advertisers but we are not stopping there. We are currently developing two additional formats which will be available before the end of the year.

Next, we will be releasing The Slider, a takeover which toggles a slider bar to the bottom of the users page and allows them to slide our homepage completely out of view and slide a full screen advertiser experience onto the page. After that we will be working on the Portrait ad which takes over over the right hand column of the page giving the advertiser even more space to work with.

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Not just innovative the MSN Homepage

In 2012, we will be looking to move some of these new formats into our channels so that the beautiful creative work that you as advertisers produce can be extended across the entire MSN user experience.

We believe passionately in ad formats that provide advertisers with the best platform for creativity and we are certain they will enhance our MSN offering.We are always working hard to increases these opportunities for our clients but we are always open to your own ideas and encourage you all to work with us to continue to create new, pioneering creative formats that suit your advertising needs and present them in the best way possible.

Look forward to hearing what you think about these ads.


November 30th 2011 advertisers, Design

A New Homepage for BBC Online

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New homepage screenshot


Two months ago the beta version of a new UK homepage for BBC Online was launched, for public use and feedback. My colleague Phil Fearnley published a post at the time to explain the strategic importance of the new homepage and I wrote about the key features in more detail.

Today the homepage that’s been running in beta launches in full, and will be the homepage of BBC Online in the UK from now on. For those of you who haven’t yet seen it, you can take a look now.

Since the beta launch ten weeks ago we’ve had three hundred comments on the blogs, over twenty thousand responses to our online survey, and over two and a half thousand direct emails. We have reviewed all your comments, and I’d like to thank those of you who took the time to test the beta and provide feedback. On my previous blog post you can read my responses to some of your comments.

The BBC Homepage occupies a unique position within the BBC Online portfolio as it can showcase the full breadth of the BBC’s content.

Audience research told us that users wanted to see the home page do a better job of promoting a greater variety of BBC Online content, to serve a wider range of audience interests.

This isn’t easy due to the range of content across BBC Online, but with this redesign we have tried to create a more representative page for the whole service.

But it’s important that the homepage continues to meet the needs of the nine million or so users who already visit the page every week, while also extending the page’s appeal to the many other licence fee payers who come to BBC Online every month.

Your chosen location has been positioned at the top of the page, alongside the date and time, as a way of indicating the importance of relevant local content. And the weather forecast, always a popular feature, is more prominent as well. Alongside this key information the page also offers a much wider range of the best and most popular content from BBC Online.

Audience research also indicated that the old BBC homepage could be more distinctive: many people who responded confused it with the front page of the BBC News site ( Many people who only want News or Sport already go straight to the BBC News and BBC Sport homepages, bypassing the BBC Homepage. However, some users get their News and Sport via the BBC homepage.

A significant proportion of traffic is referred to BBC News and BBC Sport from the main BBC homepage – 44% and 35% to each respectively during July of 2011.

So News, Local news and Sport remain clearly signposted and are positioned higher up on the new homepage – getting more headlines ‘above the fold’.

The approach we have taken in developing the new homepage is to make it easy to find the content you need every day and, we hope, discover something new from the BBC at the same time.

BBC Director of Future Media Ralph Rivera has talked about his vision of connected storytelling, a sort of ‘serendipitous discovery’ across the portfolio of BBC Online family of websites.

Results from the beta test site indicate that the majority of BBC websites have received a greater proportion of traffic from the new homepage. The page is performing as intended following the redesign which is the reason we’re now launching it for all users.

Some regular users of the BBC Homepage, especially those interested in News and Sport information, were less keen on the Beta Homepage and provided some really useful feedback which we have acted on. We hope that the new Homepage balances their needs with those who want to see the full breadth of BBC content

As well as high- quality news and sport there’s award-winning children’s content in the recently refreshed CBeebies and CBBC sites, ‘Knowledge & Learning’ sites such as Your Paintings, Wildlife Finder or Bitesize, and two entertainment services in the shape of BBC iPlayer and an evolving BBC Radio online presence.

Development of the new BBC Homepage doesn’t stop here. It introduces a new smart filtering tool (the bar that is labelled BBC online today/entertainment etc) that allows you to see more of the type of content you most want.

In the beta testing some of you told us that you didn’t like losing the more detailed customisation that was available in the previous version. My team is working on ways to introduce customisation back into the product for those who want it.

We promised major improvements in our access to content from the nations (based on a user’s choice of location) and this will be introduced shortly. In the new year a traffic and travel news module will be launching, again with information based on a user’s location preference.

In the meantime, the existing feedback options are still available. You can leave a comment underneath this blog – I read them all – complete the survey, or feedback via email to

Thanks to all of you who engaged with the beta and told us your thoughts – they’ve been valuable in shaping the launch product.

James Thornett is Head of Homepage product, BBC Future Media

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Preparing for the breakthrough/calamity

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That’s what we spend most of our time doing. The breakthrough speech that will change everything, or the giant insight that opens every door. We fret about the apocalyptic ending, the big crash, the slam climax as well.

Of course, it almost never happens that way.

Products and services succeed one person at a time, as the word slowly spreads. Customers defect one person at a time, as hearts are broken and people are disappointed. Doors open, sure, but not all at once. One at a time.

One at a time is a little anticlimactic and difficult to get in a froth over, but one at a time is how we win and how we lose.

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Google’s Hidden Navigation Menu

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As previously anticipated, Google will drop the black navigation bar and will use a simplified navigation interface that will make the transition between two Google products seamless. Google+ notifications, the sharing box and the profile menu will be displayed next to the search box, while the list of Google services will be placed in a drop-down menu next to the Google logo.

“The Google bar, which runs across the top of the browser of nearly all Google services and offers easy access to Google’s products, has recently updated its look for a more consistent, streamlined user experience and increased visibility of the most popular services,” explains Google.

The new navigation interface no longer uses additional space, it’s more compact and the short list of Google services that’s displayed by default matches Google’s simplified product line. The menu links to Google+, Web Search, Image Search, Google Maps, YouTube, Google News, Gmail and Google Docs, but you can mouse over “More” to see additional services. Here are the services that have never been included in the navigation bar until now: Google Wallet, Google Offers, Google Music, Google Mobile and Blogger.

While the new interface looks modern, it’s also less user-friendly because the navigation links are hidden behind a drop-down menu and the average user might not be able to find them. Android’s menu button wasn’t a great idea and Ice Cream Sandwich made menus more visible, so it’s not clear if this is going to work. Google’s homepage will expand the product menu by default, but it will be interesting to see if Google users will actually notice that mousing over the Google logo lets them access Gmail, Google Docs and other services.

I don’t see the new interface yet, but it’s likely that it will be rolled out in the coming days.

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Links for 2011-11-29 []

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November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Google’s Mark Twain Birthday Logo Features Tom Sawyer Getting Out Of Painting That Fence

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It’s perhaps one of my favorite special Google logos ever, one honoring the 176th birthday of American novelist Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens. It shows the classic scene from The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, where Tom gets someone else to paint his Aunt Polly’s white picket…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Which Security Seal, McAfee or Trust Guard, Got More Orders per Visitor?

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VERSION A Click to enlarge image vs. VERSION B Click to enlarge image

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Searching For Answers On In 2011

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It’s been about a year since Ask went back to its roots as a full Q&A site and at the end of last year, we offered up its most popular questions of 2010. In that story from 2010, note that claimed 90 million users at that time, and in this year’s followup release of […]

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

November 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Affiliate Marketing: Month by Month

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Affiliate Marketing: Month by MonthPlanning your affiliate promotions in advance throughout the year is a great way to ensure that you take advantage of all the important events to maximize your profit potential.

Listed below are links to posts that highlight holidays and events for each month of the year. Content in these posts will change from time to time, so be sure to check them regularly for new and additional promotional ideas.

November 30th 2011 affiliate marketing

How Did You Boost In-House Marketing This Year? A 2011 Recap on Tactics

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How Did You Boost In-House Marketing This Year? A 2011 Recap on Tactics was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Back in January of this year, I wrote a post on 3 ways to boost in-house Internet marketing in 2011. Since then, many of us have poured blood, sweat and tears into our Web marketing, and have a lot to show for it. Still, ensuring in-house Web marketing keeps its momentum is no easy task. Since we’re rounding the end of the year, I thought we’d revisit that two-part post I wrote in January 2011, recap some of the information we offered (you can do a little mental checklist of what you’ve done so far this year), and add some additional resources to reference from our blog posts over the year, in case you still need some fresh ideas.

Arrows Pointers Up Right

In the first of the two-part post, I outlined these numbered items as things that can help boost in-house Internet marketing in 2011:

  1. Actually focus on Internet marketing. At the beginning of the year, I said there were still many companies that had not yet made Web marketing a priority. Nearly a year later, reports show some businesses were planning to make strides in that area, but there’s still much work to do – for both in-housers and agencies. In this post, I’ll share some newer data about what planned spend and resources on Web marketing looked like for 2011 since my post was published.
  2. Get Buy-In. Nothing kills budget and resources for Web marketing faster than decision makers who don’t understand the value of it. This ongoing process has many in-housers pulling out hair in an effort to keep colleagues and executives educated on the importance. In the January post, I shared some initial ideas on how to tackle this. In this post, we offer more tips that just might help your in-house Web marketing strategy.
  3. Start training. Training staff in Web marketing, committing to continuing education and partnering with expert consultants are just some of the ways you can make the in-house Web marketing plan solid and fresh. Training keeps you up-to-date on evolving search engine strategies. In the January post, I shared training courses, blogs, websites and events that can help you and your staff do just that. In this post, we’ll recap tactics and insight that emerged from 2011 conferences.

Actually Focus on Internet Marketing

The first tip of the January 2011 post was to well, actually get focused on Internet marketing as part of the mar-comm plan. In the post, I pointed out that many small businesses (and big businesses alike) still had not dedicated resources to this, and it still rings true today – almost one year later.

The truth is, there’s still much work to do in Web marketing across the board, which means plenty of work for in-house online marketers as well as online marketing agencies and consultants.

A SEMPO report released in April 2011 reinforced that notion with its “state of search marketing” data, showing the search engine marketing sector was a growing one, despite other industries that experienced a downturn in the slowed economy. As for the 2011 forecast, the report estimated growth at 16 percent in 2011. We’ll await next year’s report to see how that prediction fared.

And along with the growing sector was a growing interest in businesses to invest in Web marketing this year. The SEMPO report revealed more than half of the companies surveyed planned to increase spend on SEO in 2011. However, it showed that approximately half also reported they spend 10 percent or less of their SEO budget with service providers.

So, if you’re an in-houser with similar stats, the next question is, how do you best utilize that budget and also fill in the gaps? This brings me to the second tip I gave for boosting Web marketing in 2011: receiving buy-in.

Get Buy-In

Making in-house Web marketing successful is an age-old question that seems to never have a definitive answer, but there are certainly many strategies. If you’re still struggling with buy-in and implementation, we offered several blog posts on the topic of in-house tactics here over the past year; check ‘em out:

Start Training

Last but certainly not least is training and education. This can be the single-most important component of a successful Web marketing plan. With the search engines changing rapidly year over year (we saw dramatic changes in 2011 in so many areas of online marketing), keeping up with trends and tactics is a must for any in-house marketer.

In the January post, I gave several training courses, websites and blogs that were great resources for staying up-to-date on all-things Web marketing (including our very own SEO training classroom). And while the tried and true value of that original list still holds true, we did see a lot of new ideas emerge from the 2011 conferences I mentioned in the January post.

We had a packed year of search marketing events and luckily, Bruce Clay, Inc. was there to cover the sessions you may have missed. Here’s a recap of our 2011 conference liveblog coverage, so you can get a sense of the hot topics and trends of the year, and gain insight on how you can continue to tackle them in-house:

What were your big wins in-house this year, and did any of the tips in this post play a part in that? Please weigh in with a comment below, and stay tuned for Part 2 of this post next week!

November 30th 2011 SEO