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CNET aims to enhance engagement with revamp

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CNET Networks, whose CNET.com Web site has long been a source of reviews of technology products, hopes its newly revamped online portal produces more salable pages and more profitable user engagement.

The newly redesigned Web site, unveiled Aug. 28, greatly expands the number of products under review and offers behaviorally targeted advertising opportunities. Two of the first companies to use behavioral targeting on CNET.com are Samsung Electronics and Sony Electronics.

"There also are operational efficiencies associated with this relaunch which will make it easier for editors to generate and publish content," said Mike Janover, VP-marketing for CNET. "And the more content we can put out equates to more inventory to sell through."

Another new feature is the addition of video to selected review pages to help viewers better understand technological concepts, Janover said. Video demonstrations will also provide CNET with the higher CPM that video content commands from advertisers.

The Web site revamp goes far beyond the addition of services; the new site aggregates a number of previously stand-alone CNET services—such as CNET News, Download.com, CNET TV and Shopper.com—into the flagship site.

"Now, it's really one brand we're focusing on," Janover said.

Other new features include:

  • A five-star rating system, allowing viewers to compare products while they browse the reviews.
  • In-line buying advice, making relevant information, definitions and advice on products from CNET editors more prominent. (For example, when viewers research a high-definition TV, they will see a list of similar products, along with an explanation of the technology.)
  • Appliance reviews, including evaluations of such products as built-in ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, small appliances, stoves and ranges, and washers and dryers.
  • Reviews from around the Web, providing a global perspective on researched products.
  • A CNET archive, offering access to reviews of consumer electronics, tech gear, software and games going back to 1998.

CNET was acquired by CBS Corp. in June for $1.8 billion and is now a division of CBS Interactive. It began its Web site overhaul a year before last month's relaunch, a process that involved multiple company teams, Janover said.

"The CBS acquisition did provide us with a couple of good leverage points, the biggest one being promotion, tapping into CBS Radio and CBS News," he said. "It's a massive media footprint."

Janover did not disclose the cost of the project.

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