Messenger in a bottle

Odds are that if you are sitting in front of your computer right now, you have MSN Messenger running, a claim supported by the fact that MSN has 10 million registered Canadian users among the 18 million of this country's regular Internet users.

Odds are that if you are sitting in front of your computer right now, you have MSN Messenger running, a claim supported by the fact that MSN has 10 million registered Canadian users among the 18 million of this country’s regular Internet users.

MSN unveiled its latest incarnation of its search engine in early February and in the last week of February released Messenger 7.0 with several software upgrades, including a new in-message-window search feature that has performed extraordinarily well with test markets. The initiatives are cementing MSN’s position on the global Internet advertising market, where it has recently gone up against the likes of Yahoo and Google.

While MSN’s advertisers have traditionally been Web-based companies, the new Messenger add-ons put the firm in a position to go after mainstream brands. Media Metrix statistics have shown that MSN Messenger usage rivals and, in certain cases, surpasses television viewership in key demographics.

Messenger 7.0′s new in-message-window search feature means that users who once bounced between message window and Internet browser can spend more focused and uninterrupted time within Messenger. Instead of using the Web browser to find restaurant locations or movie times, users will be able to seamlessly integrate conversations with information which, in turn, makes Messenger much more of a practical tool than previous versions of the chat program. Combine that with user information gathered by MSN through its Passport registration service and a low $15 CPM ad rate and you don’t just have an advertising tool, you have an advertising weapon.

What’s next for Messenger? Subtej Nijjar, product manager for communication services at MSN Canada, sees Messenger’s future firmly planted in the mobile environment. Like many other marketers in Canada, Nijjar is waiting for domestic mobile technology and usage patterns to catch up to levels being experienced in foreign markets like Europe.

Once that happens, Nijjar asserts that Messenger will have developed to the point where the software has no boundaries. People will eventually be able to move seamlessly between desktop computer and cellphone, which, in addition to being a huge benefit to users on the go, will also help advertisers who will soon be able to literally reach their target demos where they eat, sleep and play.