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Shortlist 'no longer aimed at men' with relaunch of website funded by product links

Shortlist has revealed it is “no longer aimed at men” with the relaunch of its new website, which is largely funded by affiliate links to products it reviews.

The new website went live this morning, five months after the free men’s magazine was shuttered in December last year following 11 years in print.

The closure prompted Shortlist Media to rebrand as Stylist Group in order to put its “full force” behind its free women’s weekly magazine Stylist.

Content on the new Shortlist website, which the group had said would become a “product recommender”, includes lists for a range of products, from mascara and Bluetooth speakers to kettles and hair straighteners.

Alongside entertainment-news articles are lists ranking video games, movies and TV shows with links to streaming services and retailers. Readers can also allow “upvote” and “downvote” entries.

The site is manned by a team of four staff, supported by freelance contributors. Approximately 20 staff had worked for the title when it was still in print and ran regular news and features online.

A spokesperson said the current team is expected to grow in the future.

In a Q&A section of its new website, Shortlist said: “Shortlist was first published all the way back in 2007 and we have a long history of recommending the best in entertainment, tech and style.

“Now we’ve taken it back to basics, and the new Shortlist.com is no longer aimed at men only. We’re here to help everybody list and rank the things they care about.”

A post from the Shortlist team today said its product reviews will be “in-depth, totally impartial and entirely ad-free”, adding: “Unlike many sites, we test products in the real world and promise to stay away from complex jargon and useless specifications.”

The website’s “About us” page said Shortlist’s “core revenue” comes from affiliate links, which direct readers to retail websites where they can purchase a product, earning the website commission on any resulting sales.

Daily regional newspaper the Liverpool Echo was recently found to have breached advertising standards in a story linking to Black Friday deals that failed to make they were part of an affiliate marketing deal.

Shortlist said its editorial team worked separately to its commercial team, adding that “reviews aren’t influenced by commercial interests”.

It went on: “Our reviews are not for sale. We don’t get paid by manufacturers or retailers to review products, and never will. And we will never recommend one product over another because a manufacturer or retailer has asked us to, or paid us to.”

Press Gazette found the majority of affiliate links on the new website direct readers to Amazon product pages.

Asked to expand on its relationship with Amazon, a Shortlist spokesperson said: “Shortlist is an affiliate-led site and has relationships with lots of retailers to help users make the right buying decision, including Amazon.

“When a user clicks through and makes a purchase, Shortlist may receive a small commission in return.

“Our aim is to always make sure users have a great buying experience and can trust the shopping recommendations on site. This user funding model requires our content to be independent and trustworthy. “

The website still carries traditional digital ads alongside its content.

Shortlist’s relaunch was delayed, with a blog post published on 18 April claiming that the new website would launch “next week”, only for it to arrive two weeks later.

The Stylist Group has also removed Shortlist from the “brands” section of its website.

Shortlist co-founder Phil Hilton spoke to Press Gazette for the magazine’s tenth anniversary in 2017.

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