Thursday, August 22, 2013

Paid Reviews are Bad for Everyone

Paid reviews are an epidemic. They are everywhere. They are on Amazon, Angie's List, Goodreads, and just about everywhere else reviews can be written.
Paid reviews are reviews authors, publishers, and others offering goods or services pay to receive. That "payment" can take many forms. It can be in cash, goods, or services. However, paid reviews bought with cash are the most common. Reviews bought with an exchange of goods and services are less common but are equally bad. 
Paid reviews differ from legitimate review sources that charge fees in several important ways. With legitimate review sources, such as an industry magazine or newspaper, someone pays a fee to have this recognized source read and review the product and gets one and only one review from that recognized source. The review comes specifically from that source and doesn’t appear to be a  review from a consumer. The review may be good or bad.
With paid review companies, the buyer can purchase as many reviews as they want. If the buyer wants 50 reviews, they can buy 50 reviews. Every review will appear to have been written by a consumer who purchased the product or service and here is a spoken or unspoken understanding the purchased reviews will be supportive.
Some companies allow people to buy reviews for as little as $5. For an extra fee these companies will even ensure the reviewers buy the product and are verified. On Amazon, having a verified purchase gives the paid review extra significance. 
With all these reviews being bought and paid for every single day, real reviews from real consumers with real opinions are becoming endangered species. According to a fellow blogger at Zon Alert who worked at Amazon, Amazon's own internal memorandums suggested that Amazon itself believes that up to 60% of the reviews on it's site weren't genuine. The reviews aren't real opinions from real readers. They are faked, bought/sold, solicited, swapped/traded. 

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