Fake Web Reviews an Issue
According to a recently completed study by Burson-Marsteller, a growing number of consumers think that fake product reviews on Web sites or community forums, or positive comments added by corporations, are a problem, and 30 percent say they are a big problem. This issue of creating a fake buzz online through the use of “placed” product reviews or company-written blogs is hurting what had been considered a reliable online buying resource for consumers - peer product reviews. Several companies have been called out recently for attempts to create this fabricated buzz online, including Wal-Mart, which recently created a fake blog promoting a variety of the chain’s products.
The study surveyed what they felt were the most influential consumers - those who are likely to recommend products to friends and family - and claimed many are now are now growing skeptical of the opinions they find on product review sites and community forums. The survey asked 1,000 of what they termed “e-fluentials” on their trust of online reviews. The study claims that compared to a similar poll conducted five years ago, an increasing number of consumers believed that fake reviews or positive comments left by corporations are a problem. About 30% said this is a big problem, compared with 20% in 2001. The study also revealed that 57% percent of these “e-fluentials” said they “would be less likely to buy a product if they suspected the company paid someone to write a positive review on an opinion site.”
“There’s now a skepticism of what is happening online and an expectation that if you’re in a community site and a commercial entity is being discussed, there’s someone paid to be weighing in,” said Ame Wadler, a chief strategic officer at Burson.