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Thursday, October 13, 2016

In response to’s “The Truth About ‘Incentivized’ Reviews on Amazon”

For the record: I am an Amazon top reviewer who actually reviews products and therefore have deeper insights to the actual process.

As such, I disagree with the concept that ReviewMeta "exposed” the data not obvious to everybody who routinely consults reviews at Amazon for additional insights. 

I disagree even more with ReviewMeta’s notion that their program gives a “clear” impression about the reviews of specific products.

Equally, I disagree with ReviewMeta’s comment that they see “some” (?) products with 0% incentivized products. They see only some products?

Amazon sells 200 million products and the majority of these don’t feature any incentivized reviews. 

As an Amazon Top Reviewer and award-winning author of books about this topic, I believe that the data ReviewMeta generates is overall flawed. Here are the errors any real reviewer will spot in an instant: 

1) Phrase Repetition

The “phrase repetition”-feature does not really add value.
For instance, I reviewed Viva Labs The Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce.
The program notes the following phrase repetitions: “Viva Labs Coconut oil”, “Use coconut oil” and “organic coconut oil.” Quite obviously, these phrases are not repetitions but they describe the product.  

2) Brand Repeats

Neither does the program’s “brand repeats”-feature add value. In this world with hyped marketing, it is only normal that customers favor a brand once they have come to like its products. 

3) Single-Day Reviewers

The “Single-Day Reviewers” feature detects if reviewers write dozens of reviews per day, which can be an indicator that they don’t research the product too well, simply because there isn’t enough time in the day. 

While this may be true, it has even been featured in the news that many Amazon reviewers consider reviewing their hobby. After all, a hobby is defined as an activity or interest people pursue for pleasure or relaxation their free time.

Additionally, top reviewers like I myself may review many items on a single day for organizational reasons. I read in bed almost every night. I bookmark pages and take notes, which is really easy on the Kindle. When I finish reading a book, I do not get out of bed to write my review. 

In fact, I may finish reading three books during one week and finally, on a weekend, take the time to review all three books and, additionally, some products, too.

In the real world, time management is considered to be a valuable skill. 

4) Overrepresented Word Count

I realize that in this day and age, many people communicate with 140 characters at a time. However, thoughtful reviewers who tested a product thoroughly and want to share their insights because that is what they do for a hobby, will most likely need between 150-200 words to state the facts. Therefore, this feature discriminates against thoughtful reviewers.
5) Deleted Reviews

Supposedly, the program tells how many reviews got deleted, either by the reviewer or by Amazon. However, it appears that consumers would have to watch and rerun the test over an extended time period, to actually gain this information. 

When I checked a product of which I was certain that at least one review had been deleted, because I myself deleted my own review, the program did not detect this fact, probably, because I deleted this review weeks ago. 

More issues:

Though I review more books than products, I purposely did not include book reviews in this blog because it seems, ReviewMeta’s program is designed for products. Any authors who use this program to see how their books rank will immediately notice that this product discriminates against the work of thoughtful reviewers. Obviously, an astute reviewer will write a longer review, thus the Word Count-feature becomes completely useless. 

Here are a few examples of ReviewMeta’s analysis of products I myself reviewed. Please note that I have no financial or other interests in any of these products. 


Telula – Organic Fruit Juice Beverage Blackberry + Chia - 32 oz. from Telula 
My review of this item:
ReviewMeta's analysis:

As it is, I am the only person who reviewed this product. ReviewMeta’s analysis announces that “unnatural reviews” are likely and the that product has insufficient “trustworthy reviews.”

Here is my simple rebuttal: Most people “discover” new food items in their supermarkets. Only, once they have come to like the one or other product, they might buy the same items from Amazon. Therefore, a reviewer’s first purchase is more likely to be a not verified purchase. 


Things got even worse when I checked out: 

Arriba Horchata Original Energy Drink, 11 Ounce (Pack of 12)

ReviewMeta’s program lists that 95% of reviews of this product are unverified purchases. Obviously,  the program can’t know that this drink is being sold in at least half the gas stations I visit. There, it is always presented next to Starbucks’ and Java Monster’s energy drinks. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a  surprise that probably hundreds of people pick up the drink by chance and decide that, because they like it, they will also review it. 


I also reviewed the
Catty Stacks Modular Boxes Cat House Condo, Snow White, 2-Pack, which I purchased at a big box pet store where the product was on sale, minus 50%.
ReviewMeta’s program noted an about 70% Overlapping Review history. It probably does not take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. Real cat owners also buy other cat products; and, obviously, there are less cat items than clothing, electronics, and/or food products. Therefore, the 70% Overlapping Review history does not shine light on any problem. 

The analysis also notes a Fail because of Skewed Helpfulness. Come on! We are talking cat lovers here...

Lastly, ReviewMeta’s program completely ignores the presence of photos and videos. In this case, my review is counted among the 24% of unverified purchases but there is no mentioning of the cute video of my cats playing on this item. 

Summing it up, though ReviewMeta’s program may be somewhat useful, it is flawed. It does not add any insider value.

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Gisela Hausmann is an Amazon top reviewer and eCommerce expert. She is also the author of “NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Product Reviews on 7 Tips to Boost Sales.”  (Fully updated October 11, 2016)

The German edition of her book “NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Product Reviews on 7 Tips how to Boost Sales” was featured in all of Austria’s major business publications.

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© 2016 by Gisela Hausmann

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