Monday, June 30, 2008


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Sometimes you see promotions come along and you wonder: did they just do that? The current MSN promotion called msnsearchandwin is a prime example of this.

Not only do they use "black hat" or at least "questionable" tactics on the site, but the messaging is inconsistent.

In this article I look at the new MSN promotion and ask the question: Why bother?

By now you've probably heard about the new MSN promotion where you can win prizes simply by using MSN search.

They did do something right by registering a domain name that implies that message. If you go to you will see the familiar MSN search box.

Wait a minute...Why is this search box blue? Didn't MSN just rebrand with a nicer, cleaner silver grey look?

That, my friends, is mistake number one. It's as if the technical team and the marketing team didn't get together to discuss this program.

I mean, when you go through something as complex and massive as a rebranding, you should make sure the messaging is consistent across the various media. Especially when the promotion and the rebranding launch within days of each other.

This is eerily similar to the article I wrote about Superbowl Ads. In that article I talked about how advertisers spend millions on a 30 second or 1 minute TV commercial yet they fail to carry that messaging over onto their website effectively if at all.

And here we have MSN - probably one of the most recognized brands on the web and subsidiary to the company with one of the most effective and ruthless marketing arms in the world - and it can't seem to communicate it's message that MSN is rebranding.

I mean, how hard would it have been for someone in Tech to phone up someone in Marketing and say, "By the way, you know that search and win promotion you are doing? Be sure that the colors match the new look of MSN that's launching in a few days."

But wait, it gets better.

First spotted by Kerry Dean, if you view source of the msnsearchandwin home page what do you see?

That's right, about a million keywords stuffed into the keywords tag. (OK maybe not a million but there are 256 keywords in the meta keywords tag).

It gets worse. Immediately below the overstuffed keywords tag you will see a bunch of keywords stuffed into a comments tag. Again the same 256 words used in the meta keywords tag.

So tell me, is it OK for a search engine to spam itself?

Perhaps we could all learn a little something from MSN's marketing mistake: Keep it Consistent!
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