Nowadays, reviews by customers have a critical role in the decision-making of clients who consider buying an item. You can easily find several online reviews to check the reputation of each item.
There are many semi-professional reviewers in some online shopping sites such as Amazon.com and Argos. In addition, many bloggers introduce their personal impression of items that they purchased. Some of those are so influential that they can earn money from an advertisement of the items they referred.
Describing a user experience is one of the popular themes in bloggers. Also, making an advertisement of a product is the proper activity of the company. However, combining them can be ethically doubtful. Thus, you find an entry of a blogger you like recommending an item. But later you know the fact that the company providing the item made a payment for a friendly review to the blogger. How do you feel about it? It is named “Stealth Marketing” or “Underground Marketing.” This kind of acts is prohibited in many countries. In making an advertisement, the writer has to disclose the relationship with the provider in terms of financial support.
By the way, I have not got money from any companies relevant to the gadgets I have introduced in this blog. I am not so influential to be given profit.
Stealth marketing can be problematic when an influential writer is involved. It is also troublesome in the case many reviewers are engaged in this act. Most review sites equip an evaluating system for each item, counting friendly reviews. If a company hires many reviewers, they can promote the item by posting fabricated reviews many times.
Recently, Amazon made a lawsuit against such fake reviewers. They were considered to get a reward for posting a review with a five-star. Amazon claims that the brand of Amazon was damaged by the fake reviewers. However, Amazon did not identify the defendants exactly, because their screen names were not trustworthy. It is still unclear how many people are involved in this issue. The reviewers and advertisement company seem to have taken some tricks to conceal their activity. This fact means that they have recognized that their act is illegal.
ITProPortal: Amazon launches battle against fake reviewers with mass lawsuit
I am curious about this case. I wonder how the court will proceed the investigation, and calculate the amount of damage Amazon took.
Most of all reviews are innocent, and we get to benefit from them. Amazon owes the reviewers, too, for supplementing the information of its merchandises. Distinguishing good reviews from bad ones is not easy, excepting organizational commitments such as this lawsuit. The wisdom of crowd is vulnerable, as well as innovative.