Personalising Web site key to ninemsn success

Allowing users to personalize Web content is help lift ninemsn traffic

Giving consumers what they want, without making them work hard on getting it, is the key to ninemsn's continual success, according to the company's CEO Tony Faure.

"Wherever you give consumers control in media they take it with both hands and run as fast as they can." And that is a good thing, said Faure.

"As a consumer I don't want to know everything but I do want to know everything that matters to me. Media companies that embrace that are going to be the ones best placed over the next few years."

At a recent business conference, Faure offered his views and theories about how ninemsn has managed to maintain the success of its leading portal site.

He also shared his experiences of things that have not worked so well.

Before joining ninemsn last year, Faure spent many years at Yahoo.

At Yahoo his team worked on MyYahoo, a customisable Web page with news, stock quotes, weather, and many other features. Ninemsn also offers similar features through its portal.

"I can tell you about 1.8 per cent of all our consumers use products like MyYahoo. The reason is, I want the media to be personal but I don't want, as a consumer, to have to do the work to make it personal," Faure said.

"Now were are seeing a change where your products have to enable a consumption by the consumer that is personal. But in order to get to that you have to do the work to make that product personal. Don't expect the consumers to do it as a vast majority of them almost certainly wont," he said.

"Think about personalisation," Faure told his audience, "but customization [like MyYahoo] doesn't seem to us the way consumers are likely to go".

Faure said he has been "blown away" by the amount of participation ninemsn gets from consumers when they are given an opportunity.

A typical ninemsn homepage poll gets 80,000-100,000 votes per day. In addition, people like to voice their opinions, for example; when Rugby League legend Andrew Johns confessed to drug taking several months back, his admission garnered 4,500 comments online in a day.

"So participation from the community and being able to have a say is another big trend for the next few years," Faure concluded.

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Howard Dahdah

Computerworld
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