MSN recruits new director of marketing

Microsoft Network, the third-largest online service provider in the UK, has appointed Oliver Roll as its marketing director.

Roll, formerly marketing manager of desktop applications at Microsoft UK, took over the post this week. He replaces Taylor Collyer, who left in the summer to head marketing at MSN in Australia.

Roll says his appointment will not prompt an advertising review, but adds that he will be re-evaluating MSN’s marketing activity.

MSN claims 150,000 UK subscribers. This compares with the estimated 200,000 claimed by AOL and 400,000 by CompuServe, which last month announced plans to merge operations with AOL in the UK.

Roll insists MSN is well placed to take advantage of any disaffection among subscribers to CompuServe, which could result from AOL’s takeover.

MSN has spent modestly on advertising this year, compared with its high-profile relaunch last autumn. But the service has benefited from TV-led umbrella brand ads for Microsoft Internet products, and the MSN marketing budget is being increased to reflect the buoyancy of the UK market, says Roll.

“The market is growing faster than ever before, and the number of people coming online is growing,” says Roll. “We are investing heavily in MSN in the UK and we will be spending more than ever to promote our product.”

Microsoft has launched another offensive in its battle to overhaul Netscape as Britain’s leading Internet browser brand. It has launched the latest version of its Internet Explorer software, which features tie-ups with major UK publishers. Microsoft announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the upgrade will feature content tie-ups with ten British “gold partners” including the BBC, the Financial Times, and Vogue.

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