CNN launched today its first effort in e-commerce with the debut of CNN Underscored, an online shopping guide for the best in style, tech, health and travel.
An entirely separate editorial entity, the commerce initiative is committed to providing informative content about a variety of topics and products relevant to the daily lives of CNN’s audience.
An extension of the CNN Digital domain, and built by CNN’s business development team, CNN Underscored’s content is both seasonally appropriate and data-driven. All the products featured on the site are vetted, tested and recommended by a team of writers dedicated to reviewing high-quality products available for purchase.
In addition to Underscored, CNN will relaunch the online home for its CNN Store later this month, where fans can purchase attire and gear to celebrate CNN, as well as non-branded education and technology products.
More About CNN Underscored:
What is Underscored?
CNN Underscored is an ecommerce initiative that will give recommendations for the best products and services geared towards lifestyle, tech, health, and travel.
How does a reader know if they are looking at sponsored or ecommerce content?
CNN Digital’s editorial and business teams have worked hard to make sure the lines between CNN Underscored’s content and CNN journalism are very clear. The pages looks different. The logo is different. There is a disclaimer at the top. Visually it is extremely transparent, and that’s very important to us. We are upfront with our audience about what is news and what is shopping content –on every page.
How many people do you have on staff working on this content?
CNN news staff is not at all involved in the product selection or reviews. CNN Underscored’s commerce writers are the primary voices on CNN.com/Underscored. They are fully dedicated to writing, reviewing and telling the audience about the quality products and services they’ve vetted. They aren’t splitting their time between news and commerce content. Underscored is their only focus.
How do you handle the division between CNN journalism and business?
The CNN Underscored team operates separately from the CNN news team. CNN Underscored pages are designed differently from the editorial news pages in order to further distinguish the commerce content from the news content. CNN Underscored follows all FTC guidelines for proper labeling and disclaimer language, and the disclaimer also makes it clear that CNN earns a percentage of the revenue from any consumer purchases via the CNN Underscored recommendations.
Does CNN make money if I buy something?
Yes. CNN receives revenue when you make a purchase after clicking through from one of the reviews or pages on Underscored.
How do you choose which products to recommend?
The Underscored team is focused on what they call ‘the three Rs.’ That’s Research, Reputation, and Recommendation – they select products that they’ve researched. They make sure the product is tested, either first-hand or by reviewing star ratings and comments, independent studies, listing awards, and well-respected reports to justify their picks. They find products and providers with a strong reputation for quality and then make recommendation to our users.
How do they choose which retailers to direct traffic to?
It will depend entirely on the product, but they will never direct traffic to an unsafe or untrusted retailer.
How do you work with the countless online merchants?
CNN Underscored uses affiliate networks that connect publishers and advertisers. The affiliate networks allow them to pick premium retailers with whom they’d like to work.
How are you going to market it?
To promote awareness for the new initiative, CNN will leverage its existing platforms, including its website, social platforms, newsletters and other search platforms. Clear labeling will be featured to distinguish Underscored content from CNN news editorial content.
How can a merchant work with Underscored?
Merchants with unique products or services who would like to be featured, should email CNNunderscored@turner.com. When submitting, explain how and why that product or service stands out. Note that CNN Underscored maintains full editorial control and cannot guarantee any coverage based on submissions.
Where can we find and follow it?
For more information, visit CNN Underscored’s About Us page.