Phys .org: Online shoppers swayed by customer reviews of physical products—not experiences. “We live in a world of online reviews. Before spending on everything from restaurant meals to a new pair of jeans or even a European vacation, many of us often check Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor first. But not all customer reviews are created equal. In fact, we put more trust in reviews about material items than we do about experiences.”
The Verge: Yelp says it shut down 550 user accounts after discovering a fraudulent review ring. “Yelp knows its credibility is only as good as its reviews, so today, it’s releasing its first Consumer Alerts Report, which details incidents in which Yelp’s team intervened to cut off fraudulent reviews or activity. The report shines a light on behavior that one would likely expect happens on a review site — people trying to game the system — but only focuses on successful cases where either Yelp’s human team or software detected abnormal behavior.”
The Age (Australia): Melbourne brothel owner sues Google over bad reviews. “A South Melbourne brothel owner is taking legal action to force Google to reveal who wrote its bad online reviews, some of which direct customers to a nearby competitor. The Boardroom of Melbourne, which bills itself as one of the city’s top brothels, wants the Federal Court to force Google to hand over the IP addresses linked with the negative reviews after the search engine giant refused to reveal the identities behind them and take them down.”
Search Engine Land: Fake and inaccurate reviews driving billions in ‘wasted’ consumer spending [Report]. “American consumers said they wasted $125, on average, in 2019 due to inaccurate reviews, a new report finds. If we extrapolate that across the adult population, as much as $25 billion in U.S. consumer spending has been wasted due to inaccurate (or fake) online reviews.”
ABC News (Australia): Gangland lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson launches court action to unmask Google reviewer . “Melbourne gangland lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson is suing technology behemoth Google in a bid to unmask an online reviewer who she suspects is actually a legal competitor.”
BBC: Google ordered to reveal author of Australian dentist’s bad review. “An Australian court has ordered Google to identify the person behind an anonymous bad review of a dentist. Dr Matthew Kabbabe, a teeth-whitening specialist in Melbourne, sought the order so he could sue for defamation.”
InformationAge: Lawyer wins $750,000 over bad Google review. “An Adelaide-based lawyer has won a $750,000 defamation pay-out against a woman who posted three negative Google reviews of his business, despite never being a client.”
Los Angeles Times: Column: Would you write a 5-star Amazon review in return for a $20 bribe . “It won’t be a news flash to anyone that a significant percentage of online reviews are untrustworthy. For as long as reviews have been posted on websites, there have been attempts by consumers and businesses to game the system. Nor will anyone be shocked to learn that a behemoth like Amazon has a hard time policing its own site. The company has been scrambling for years to battle both dubious reviews and counterfeit goods.”
This is Money: ‘I was charged £50 for leaving a negative review’: Food subscription service My Farm Fresh Box under fire for its bad feedback fee. “Ms E, who does not wish to be named, initially signed up to a free trial from My Farm Fresh Box, which delivers fruit and vegetables to subscribers homes, to see what the service was like. But when she posted on Trustpilot about the £20 cancellation fee that she hadn’t spotted, she was then hit with another surprise she hadn’t spotted when she signed up – a £50 fee for bad feedback.” Out of curiosity, I went and looked at the Trustpilot reviews for this company and not only is it getting pounded with bad reviews, but Trustpilot has put up a banner about its policies.
Search Engine Land: Yelp cracks down on ‘review rings’ as Google continues to see widespread mapspam. “Yelp has almost certainly been the most aggressive of the review platforms to take action against spam and review fraud. The company has historically and controversially tried to prevent any form of review solicitation….Now the company is stepping up efforts to stop ‘review rings,’ which have become something of a cottage industry online.”
Search Engine Land: Noticeable drop in reviews showing in Google search results. “Numerous Google search tracking tools are all reporting a drop in the number of search results that display the review rich results, the stars under the search result snippets. This should come as no surprise since Google announced an algorithm update to tighten the rules around when a review rich result is shown for a snippet earlier this week.”
NZCity: Sydney surgeon sues Google over negative reviews, but tech giant claims it is ‘subordinate distributor’. “A prominent Sydney plastic surgeon suing Google for defamation over business reviews invited the ‘robust public criticism’ by using ‘puffery and hyperbole’ in his own advertising, the tech giant claims.”
Cornell Chronicle: For online reviews, shoppers believe a pretty face. “Beauty is truth – or at least, that’s what consumers sifting through online reviews seem to think. New Cornell research has found that people are more inclined to be swayed by positive recommendations posted online by attractive reviewers.” Well, that’s one job I ain’t gonna get.
Search Engine Land: Google’s inconsistency with third-party reviews is a confusing user experience. “When I first started in this industry in 2006, there was a multitude of sites that small businesses could ask customers to review them on. Over a decade later, we find that there are very few websites in this space that are actively generating user-generated content from consumers…. It also becomes very confusing to consumers and marketers when you factor in Google not enforcing their own schema guidelines for third-party review sites. Here are a few examples.” Excellent editorial with tons of examples.
UCLA Anderson School of Management: That Online Hotel Review You Wrote? It Matters. “Research by UCLA Anderson’s Brett Hollenbeck, University of Toronto’s Sridhar Moorthy and University of Southern California’s Davide Proserpio suggests that hotels with favorable overall consumer reviews have been able to treat those ratings as a substitute for advertising: They have notably reduced ad spending as their online quality ratings have risen. By contrast, hotels with relatively poor online reviews have had to use ad spending to substitute for their lack of strong consumer recommendations, according to the paper, forthcoming in Marketing Science.”