Amazon has started using third-party editorial content on its homepage to provide a deeper level of recommendations for some of the products it sells.
The company has partnered with The Wirecutter, a product review site founded by Brian Lam, a well-known editor who worked at both Gizmodo and WIRED magazine for many years. The partnership debuted today with a splashy homepage image, advertising “The Best Travel Gear for your Next Journey.”
An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment, however Lam discussed the partnership today on Twitter. In the tweet, he said Amazon was experimenting with running editorial content on its homepage, and for its first test, it has partnered with The Wirecutter.
— Brian Lam (@blam) April 27, 2015
Interestingly, up until now, The Wirecutter and Amazon have had a informal relationship of sorts. Unlike many editorial upstarts, The Wirecutter is not in the ad business. Instead the vast majority of its revenue comes from affiliate fees paid by retailers — mostly Amazon, according to The New York Times, which wrote about the site’s launch in 2012.
In follow-up tweets, Lam discloses that the site is not earning affiliate fees from purchases made from the travel guide on Amazon.com. It is unknown if The Wirecutter is being compensated for its content in some other way, or if being prominently displayed on Amazon’s home page is enough.
Update: An Amazon spokeswoman said this is not the first time the company has offered independent editorial on the Amazon gateway page, and confirmed that The Wirecutter is not receiving any associate fees for referrals.
Once you click through from the homepage to The Wirecutter guide, a note at the top of the page clearly states The Wirecutter is an independent site that helps people decide what gear to buy. To come up with recommendations, The Wirecutter says its process includes reading everything it can about a product, from Amazon reviews to formal reviews written by leading researchers and editors. Then, it applies research from is own team of experts.
The page on Amazon includes an exhaustive list of gear one might buy to travel, ranging from suitcases to noise-canceling headphones to travel towels, binoculars and selfie sticks. Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without a recommendation for the Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon’s most prized e-reader.
“While traveling in Southeast Asia a couple of summers ago, we used a paper copy of Lonely Planet’s guide to Cambodia and the Kindle version for Bangkok, but wish we’d gone with the Kindle version for both,” The WireCutter writes. “Electronic annotations, universal search and bookmarks are far easier to use than physical ones and they sync automatically across your phone and computer.”
But the version on Amazon isn’t unique in favoring the Amazon-developed product. A longer version of the same guide can be found on The Wirecutter, complete with a recommendation for the Kindle Paperwhite.