The MSNBC.com Digital Cafe, which had a soft launch two weeks ago and will be fully operational in mid-July, is one of several brand extensions the company is creating in an effort to deliver its content in new and interesting ways.
It’s an acknowledgement of] the way the world is developing. Not everyone is going to come to your Web site everyday. So, we have been thinking of other ways to get our content out there,” said Catherine Captain, vp, marketing for MSNBC.com.
The cafe includes other programs MSNBC.com has launched in an effort to engage consumers in different ways. One is Spectra, which Captain described as a visual news reader that allows viewers to select stories. (There will be five touch screens and a larger monitor inside the cafe.)
The company has created numerous gaming initiatives. Among the news-infused games are NewsBlaster and NewsBreaker, in which players use a paddle to keep a ball in play and break the bricks on the screen to reveal headlines. This game led to the creation of NewsBreaker Live, last summer’s in-cinema gaming experience that used motion-sensing technology. Moviegoers caught falling news headlines to win points as group. MSNBC.com formalized these assets, creating a host site NewsWare, which launched in early May. The online news organization worked with agency partner SS&K on creative development. Captain also acknowledged MSNBC.com visitors.
“What we really discovered about the MSNBC.com consumers — what they love about us — is the journey of news discovery in and of itself,” she said. “We’ve really tried to hit on that insight — they have a news explorer mentality. Because they have that natural, psychological bias towards exploration, that’s when we started to say there is a need to think of different ways to [present] news in ways that would really resonate with them.”
Captain emphasized that the efforts go beyond marketing: “It’s really the marriage of deep consumer insights, brand marketing efforts and product development.” She said the digital cafe “gave us an opportunity to quite literally bring exploration to a physical space.”
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.