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MSN to place reviews on shopping site

The portal plans to integrate reviews by Epinions, which cover everything from sports stadiums to late-model cars, into its eShop site later this summer.

    MSN and Epinions.com will announce a deal tomorrow that will bring customer reviews to the Microsoft-owned portal's shopping area.

    The reviews, which cover everything from sports stadiums to late-model cars, will be integrated into MSN's eShop later this summer, company representatives said. MSN will also announce tomorrow that it has redesigned the eShop home page and added a new gift center to the site.

    "This is a pretty big deal for us," said Nirav Tolia, chief executive of Epinions. "We've developed new parts of our product, and we're going to be debuting them on MSN."

    Representatives of Epinions and MSN declined to discuss the financial details of the deal. However, Tolia said Epinions did not pay MSN to promote its reviews and that the company typically enters into revenue-sharing arrangements with its partners based on the money generated by its content.

    The new features will include a list of the top five products in each category as recommended by Epinions reviewers.

    The deal with MSN is the latest for Brisbane, Calif.-based Epinions. The company already provides product reviews to Excite@Home, Lycos and Snap.

    Epinions is one of a number of online product review sites. Among its competitors are ConsumerReview.com and Productopia.com. Deja.com, which started off as a Web gateway to Usenet discussion groups, has also reconfigured itself as a product review site and earlier this year added a comparison shopping service.

    Consumers write the reviews on Epinions and critique reviews written by others. Epinions pays its reviewers based on the number of times readers view their opinions.