MSN had a bit of a problem. It had the popular entertainment area of its service, where movies, musical acts, and other things in pop culture have pages filled with content for fans. But the problem was that paying people to populate these sites with content was expensive. And since it’s the fans that want to see it, why not let them help out to build the site? That’s why MSN is now partnering with WetPaint, the simple website building platform, to power new entertainment sites.
Two dozen such sites are set to be launched over the next few months. These sites will specifically be powered by WetPaint Injected, its service which allows any site owner to place user generated content onto their sites. That’s exactly what MSN plans to do, as it will still house the sites, but will simply populate pages based on the content that fans create.
Though none are yet live, you can get a taste for how this might work with the WetPaint-powered page Showtime has for its show, The Tudors. It features a large community updating the site regularly, giving other fans pictures, video clips and commentary.
And what’s really nice about these WetPaint Injected-powered site is that they play nicely with search engines, WetPaint CEO Ben Elowitz tells me. With a lot of other widget add-ons that usually power fan pages hosted elsewhere, the search engine crawlers have trouble parsing the site, but WetPaint is SEO-friendly, and that has led to large increases in traffic from searchable terms that fans include on pages.
Elowitz notes that it’s nice to see MSN taking a lead in making its sites more socially friendly, when other large portals are strugling with that. And as a number of big names in entertainment and brands start to move to use fan pages on Facebook, he also notes that WetPaint-powered fan pages perform well when compared to Facebook fan pages. Generally, the WetPaint variety see 100 times the usage from fans when it comes to contributions and comments, he says.
Elowitz wouldn’t go into the specifics of the arangement with MSN, but notes that usually its outside business deals involve revenue sharing and/or some sort of fee for their service.
It seems to be a smart play by MSN. Why pay someone to do work that fans will do for free? Not only that, but fans tell other fans about the contributions their making, and it’s like built-in buzz for the community you’re targeting. And when you serve everyone who comes to these sites ads, you have a nice little, basically free, revenue stream right there.
WetPaint also has a smaller side project it’s working on in light of the recent shut down of Geocities. GARP, or Geocities Asset Recovery Plan, will allow stranded Geocities users to transfer their sites over to Wetpain using their migration kit. WetPaint is even offering to buy domains for the first thousand sites that migrate.