Friends Smartphones

Citing readers’ needs for engaging, customized news content, today (Tuesday) launched a smartphone-optimized version of its site.

The site, which debuted with Hilton Hotels as the launch sponsor, allows iPhone, iPad, Palm Pre and Android-powered devices to view content from MSNBC Digital Network’s many properties. (These include Today, Meet the Press and Dateline.) It is aimed at providing a “brand centric,” “immersion experience” for consumers, said Jeff Maurone, product manager for

The target audience is consumers who purchase cutting-edge smartphones. “They’re self-selecting into being passionate about content [delivered] via their devices,” said Maurone. Though iPhone users make up a small portion of MSNBC’s mobile audience, they’re also the ones who are engaged and “spending far more time on our site than [someone with] a Nokia or lower-end phone,” Maurone added. is promoting the new mobile site on its home page. “Finally, a news site as smart as your phone. Get the latest news—optimized for your smartphone—from the MSNBC Digital Network. Immerse yourself in vibrant video, compelling slideshows and engaging stories right from your smartphone,” an advertisement for the new product says.

As the launch advertiser, Hilton Hotels, which spent $5 million in measured media last year, per Nielsen, will run banner ads and SMS-based sponsor alerts through the rest of this month. Other advertising deals are in the works though declined to discuss.

Features of the new mobile site include “customizable content categories that can be expanded or collapsed, UpScroll navigation and touch-and-scroll slideshows that showcase larger photos,” said.

Though other news competitors also have smartphone-friendly sites, this one is different in that it creates a custom brand experience for each property. A visitor logging onto’s mobile site, for instance, would get a totally different brand experience from someone visiting, say, Meet The Press’s online site.

“We’re trying to build an experience with the people we believe will be the most engaged with our content,” Maurone said.