NBCU News Group Taps Consumer Reports For Product Reviews to Spur Online Shopping

Why go to the mall when you can shop via NBC’s “Today” program?

NBCUniveral News Group, the parent of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, has for several years worked to weave e-commerce into the digital counterpart to its venerable “Today” show as well as other areas, and now it hopes to facilitate more purchases by providing users with product reviews from Consumer Reports.

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The venerable consumer advocacy organization will contribute product reviews that are normally placed behind a paywall to a new digital destination on two NBCU e-commerce sites, Shop Today and Select. The “Best Product Reviews” area will provide Consumer Reports findings around different product categories, including cooking, bed and bath, and tools and appliances. The product reviews are based on research and testing, and NBCU executive hope they will create an easier shopping experience.

“We see commerce as this extension of the brand, an opportunity to make peoples’ lives easier,” says Ashley Parrish, senior vice president of commerce for NBCU News Group, in an interview.

Many media entities have been experimenting with so-called “shoppable TV,’ which can take viewers into shopping experiences with the use of a smartphone or other digital device. The technology even came to the Super Bowl this year, with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase running a controversial commercial featuring only a floating QR code against a dark background. Viewers who used their phones were taken to a company web site.

Now NBCU’s goal is to give its shoppers the chance to buy with fewer obstacles between discovering a product and choosing to purchase it. “We are trying to reduce the friction as much as possible, and applying a layer of authority and expertise” that will give consumers more confidence as they buy, says Parrish.

In addition to weaving Consumer Reports reviews into the shopping sites, NBCU News Group will feature content from the organization in regular segments on “Today” in months to come. Products tested by Consumer Reports will be made “shoppable” via QR codes seen on screen during the appearances. Both parties expect to earn affiliate commission on purchases made through the “Best Product Reviews” destination on Shop Today and Select.

“For more than 86 years, millions of people have relied on Consumer Reports for trustworthy information to help them shop smart, save money, and stay safe,” says Lauren Stanich. vice president and chief marketing officer at Consumer Reports, in a statement. “This partnership with NBC helps us reach even more people as we continue to evolve our brand in new ways.”

NBCU News Group launched its commerce efforts in 2017, part of a movement by many traditional media companies to harness interactive technology to create new flows of revenue. ABC’s “Good Morning America,” for example, also offers e-commerce opportunities. At NBC, viewers can find and purchase products via Shop Today or Select, the latter of which was launched in October. “Today All Day,” a streaming counterpart to the linear morning program, features shoppable content online, with shows like “Shop All Day” or “Shop Today with Jill Martin” (above, pictured). Both programs are produced by NBC News’ custom productions unit.

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