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MSN Gives Fox Sports Fans News via Alerts, RSS Feeds

MSN is using MessageCast technology to let Fox Sports fans sign up online to receive scores and news from their favorite teams via alerts and RSS feeds.

Fans visiting the MSN Fox Sports site at msn.foxsports.com can choose to get such information through their PC via MSN Messenger, mobile device or e-mail. They also can opt for a combination based on their message status on MSN Messenger, an instant messenger service.

“Marketers will have the opportunity to tap into a focused, fanatically interested audience,” said Royal Farros, CEO of MessageCast, Redwood City, CA. “Sports fans are just crazy about this stuff. We reach out over the MSN network and actually find a fan with information they want. Allowing marketers who cater to a sporting audience to tap into that is incredibly potent.”

This deal further strengthens ties between MSN and Fox Sports. Both marketers have worked together since July, making msn.foxsports.com one of the leading sports destinations online.

RSS and XML are increasingly changing the interaction between technology and content. MSN Alerts allows content to become available in a user-controlled manner that is free of spam and 100 percent opted in.

“[Also], because we can see your presence on MSN Messenger, we're able to send the information to you when and where you want it,” said Matthew Carlson, program manager at MSN, Redmond, WA. “We use RSS as a key information trigger. The value to the publisher is that we send the subscriber back to their site, which gives them a more intentional RSS strategy and fits into their current ad model.”

MessageCast has been involved for a while in using real-time networks to communicate marketing messages. Though it won't provide details, MessageCast claims clients such as L'Oreal in Britain got a 24 percent click-through on beauty alerts sent to customers over a six-month period. L'Oreal in Germany is said to have registered a 35 percent click-through in the same period.

“You just don't see these kinds of results with e-mail, banners, pop-ups, sliders, etc.,” Farros said.

RSS works like an on-off switch for information. A consumer who wants coupons from Coupons.com can subscribe to the firm's RSS coupon feed. With that, the switch is turned on. If the coupons aren't useful, the consumer unsubscribes from the feed, or turns it off.

From Coupons.com's perspective, the company can sort its coupons feed into categories like food and home improvement coupons. Consumers interested click on that feed. Coupons.com can use tools from the market to turn the categories into vertical coupon feeds.

Tracking traffic is easy as well. MSN can find out how many people receive an RSS-triggered alert, where they received it and how many people clicked on it for the full story on the Fox Sports section.

“That's a great way to increase visibility of the content in a way that gives both publishers and users the controls they want,” Carlson said.

The big question around technology such as RSS is who makes the money. Certainly it's those providing the technology and the platforms as well as the relevant ad networks serving the ads. The publishers can count on traffic to their pages once links in RSS feeds are clicked on.

“This is another major step towards a pure, consumer-powered information world,” Carlson said. “You can ride the viral wave of RSS or be swept away by it, but you cannot ignore it or avoid it. Someone will step in and fill the gaps in any content segment that doesn't offer RSS. So it's a great opportunity for small publishers to gain ground on those who stay on the sidelines.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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