At a session at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Dharmesh Mehta shows off Hotmail's expansion of "ActiveViews," a platform that reinvents email by making your inbox more interactive and helping you get tasks completed.
"First, we focused on popular types of emails with photos, videos, documents, and shipping notifications (e.g. YouTube, Hulu, Flickr, FedEx) and how we could make common actions easier. For those messages, we fetch the important content from other websites and let you engage with it in an Active View that appears at the top of the message. This lets us take an email with a text URL for a shared video, and instead of just showing dull text, let you watch the video without having to leave your inbox.
In traditional email with just a text link, the percentage of people clicking through is less than 10%. With Active Views, customers are clicking on the video control in about 25% of all email messages with a video. In fact, we've served over one billion Active Views for photos, videos, documents, and shipping notifications.
In addition to Monster.com, Microsoft partners expanded to include: FedEx with ActiveViews for package tracking. Hotmail has already served up 1 billion ActiveViews emails. Today Microsoft is announcing new partnerships, and Linked-In, Living Social, Posterous.com, which went live today, and Netflix among others are set to bring live updates directly into your emails.
This email from Posterous.com, which you would get after subscribing to email updates from a Posterous blog, shows the static content you would receive in any email message:
… but with an ActiveViews email, with content pulled directly from the partner servers, you not only get a static shot of the post, but can read up to date comments, and even comment on your own, directly from within the email:
Note that these emails come directly to you, and can't be forwarded with the ActiveView content intact, a security measure.
“The Active Views platform is an important part of our work to tailor Hotmail to the types of email you get every day. And the best part is that it allows for flexibility for partners while ensuring that you stay in control," said Dick Craddock.