Monday, December 10, 2007

ExactChoice Epilogue: New CNET Recommenders

Over the past several months, CNET has been activating product recommenders in a variety of categories. Included are cell phones, digital camcorders, HDTVs, laptops, MP3 players, and printers.

Those familiar with the ExactChoice Recommender will recognize a lot of ExactChoice in these new recommenders. Indeed, the fact they exist is largely due to the success of the ExactChoice Recommender when it ran within the CNET Reviews site. That run was always seen as a precursor to the real integration, which would include more categories, tighter integration with CNET editorial, and technical integration with the CNET data platform.

These new recommenders represent the real integration—or perhaps the better word is reinvention. The new recommenders are literally a new generation of recommender after ExactChoice.

Although I kibitzed from my lair in the data side of CNET (CNET Channel), the real work was done by a team in the media side of the CNET brand. They did a great job of adapting the ExactChoice concept to CNET’s infrastructure and strengths.

In particular, the new recommenders leverage CNET’s expert editors to ask and explain the right questions. For example, note the integration of advice within the choices (especially the second one) for this question from the digital camcorders recommender.

Also, unlike the original ExactChoice Recommender, the new recommenders have an additional level of qualification for products: The results are sorted by editor’s rating, based on hands-on product reviews. So if you end up with many products that fit your needs, the editor’s rating is a useful tie-breaker. You can also sort on price, if that’s more important to you.

As an example, here is the start page for the digital camcorders recommender. The lower part of the page also has links to the other CNET recommenders.

Thanks to all those at CNET who made these new recommenders happen!

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