Video Clips Replace Ads in Messenger

Microsoft has a new option for people tired of seeing the advertisement in their MSN Messenger window: watch video clips instead. With the introduction of Windows Live Messenger, the Redmond company is testing a feature it calls the Video Carousel that replaces the graphic ad with interactive video content from MSN.

Windows Live Messenger is the successor to MSN Messenger and entered beta testing earlier this month. The new client includes features such as offline messages and PC-to-phone calls. File transfers are beefed up through online drop boxes called "Sharing Folders" that actually store the data on a Microsoft server.

Because Messenger is sponsored by advertising, Video Carousel was designed to make the ads more interesting for users. At the same time, Microsoft will have the ability to place MSN content in front of millions of eyeballs and direct traffic to its Web properties.

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"The video part shows a thumbnail of the video, a short description, a control bar used to play the video and to move back and forth between clips. Also we borrowed the gleam concept from the MSN Spaces integration to make it easy to know which videos you've already seen," says Live Messenger team member Daniel Feies.

Video titles are loaded using RSS feeds, which are similar to the MSN Video feeds Microsoft currently offers. For the moment, MSN Video will be the only content provider for the messaging client, Microsoft says.

Those interested in being notified when new videos become available for viewing can enable a new alerts feature. And for those not interested in the new feature at all, Video Carousel can be disabled, which reverts the client back to the standard graphical ad used in MSN Messenger 7.5.

"We know, looking at ads is not on the "Top 10 things I like to do" for most people but we think there is value for the users in ads and we can make them attractive," said Feies. "One of our PMs, Jody suggested to put some puppies in there - everybody loves puppies but I don't think that would have worked out.

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