Microsoft's online presence has lagged behind its competitors, but in a bid to catch up, the tech giant launched a new celebrity gossip news called Wonderwall.com.
MSN expects Wonderwall, produced by Hollywood company BermanBraun, to encourage users to spend more time on the site than they have elsewhere on the Web portal, and that it will offer new avenues of online advertising.
Despite spending billions on its MSN unit over the years, Microsoft is still struggling to become a true 'destination' for internet surfers. That's not entirely surprising given the fact that, at its core, Microsoft has always been better 'technology' company than anything else.
MSN may need all the edge it can get in its battle against such Web heavyweights as Yahoo, which has its own celebrity gossip site, OMG, and Time Warner's AOL, partial owner of TMZ.
Websites offering celebrity-related news and content are one of the fastest-growing online niches. An average of 84 percent people on the Internet visit an entertainment site every month, says MSN, making the entertainment category more popular than social networks, retail, or other traditional outlets.
Not surprisingly, the gossip category grew at a 12 percent clip last year, according to comScore figures cited by MSN.
The site, Wonderwall, is however aesthetically pleasing as its set up like a voyeur's dream. It allows the reader to browse through celebrity photos and headlines and gives the illusion that the user is flipping the pages of a magazine, staring at a wall of televisions, or sneaking a quick look through private windows.
By scrolling the cursor over one of these boxes, a small blurb of text describes what the article is about.
We think it's something that the users will just naturally understand and have fun with, said Rob Bennett, general manager of network programming for MSN.
MSN and BermanBraun first announced their deal to create the site in June.
Click here to visit www.wonderwall.com.