MSN India, the
third-largest portal in India, is counting on its upgraded lineup of services to corner a larger share of the market. After rolling out a new version of Windows Live Hotmail with 5GB free storage space, the company has followed up with a complete suite of services, including SkyDrive, Live Messenger and Live Spaces. Globally, Microsoft's rumoured offer to buy Facebook for an exorbitant price and its $6 billion acquisition of ad network aQuantive show that the company has set its sights on online services - both for consumers and advertisers.
In a conversation with agencyfaqs!, Jaspreet Bindra, country manager, Online Services Business, Microsoft India, says, "Where we bring our strength is actually the services. It's not easy to create a global, robust and secure service." Being in a close position to global biggie Yahoo! and Indian leader Rediff is not easy. However, Bindra is clear that MSN India does not aim to be "the best horizontal, which has everything..." He adds that the portal will focus on entertainment and education, where it has strong content.
MSN is also looking forward to extending its global relationship with Nokia, where Windows Live services are built into Nokia N-Series phones. The tie-up exists in 11 countries worldwide and Bindra says the company will be announcing a similar tie-up in India soon.
One area in which MSN seems to be losing out is social networking, but Bindra says that Spaces, with 130 million bloggers, is a big platform. He adds that the company is working on something and will be likely to follow the LinkedIn or Facebook model because "we need to start respecting privacy".
Bindra is not as enthusiastic on advertising on social media. "The thing with advertising on social networks is that you don't have control over the content. People are going to be wary of that until advertising becomes so smart that it actually reads the content and does not jar with the advertising. So, it's still a little risky," he says.
Even so, MSN's Digital Advertising Solutions offer advertisers spaces on its messenger and blogging services. It has even experimented with in-game advertising on its gaming console, XBox Live. Elaborating on the role of Digital Advertising Solutions, Bindra says, "There's advertising which will start on the mobile, and advertising on IPTV, as and when we launch it. So, Digital Advertising Solutions actually goes across media and that's why it was created."
Read the full interview here.