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What is Review Spam and Why is it a Problem?

There is no denying the importance placed by consumers and marketers alike on online business reviews. More and more consumers each day are preferring online reviews of a business as a means of whether or not to do business with them, while marketers are enjoying the brand awareness and feedback that review platforms have provided. Unfortunately, there is a dark underbelly with regard to online reviews, and it comes, like most annoying things, in the form of spam.

So, what is review spam?

As you would imagine, review spam incorporates any inaccurate review of a business, product, or service being published on an online service such as Yelp or Facebook. There are many reasons why this would happen, though perhaps the most common reasons include either illegitimately promoting one’s own business, or tearing down the reputation of their competitors.

While this has always been around, recent years have seen the production of review spam turn into a thriving industry, with companies hiring hordes of creative writers who to review products (for better or worse), even though there has been no interaction or transaction between them.

How it affects consumers

It’s pretty plain to see how a falsified review of a product could have a negative effect on consumers. We like to make informed purchasing decisions, and since we look to reviews for advice on these purchases, we expect them to be conducted with some degree of accuracy and integrity.

Unfortunately, when reviewers are simply crunching out generic articles, they become completely unreliable and so create mistrust between the product, the review platform, and the customer.

How it affects businesses

Blackmail and revenge scandals are frighteningly commonplace in the corporate world, and review platforms have provided the perfect way for your competitors to twist the knife. Review platforms allow them to give falsified reports about the products and services offered by their competitors, which can be used to boost their own sales or to sully your good reputation.

Since it is not always easy to prove whether a review has been falsified or not, this underhanded tactic has been the downfall of its fair share of honest businessmen and women.

Why is this happening?

So, why is review spam so rampant in digital advertising? Simply put, because it can be.

Firstly, it is effective either when squashing your competition, or when trying to boost your own reputation. Since people rely fairly heavily on reviews for information (and by and large cannot tell real ones from fake ones), reviews have a direct influence on their purchasing decisions.

Secondly, there are no codified consequences for such underhanded behavior, and there is no surefire way to determine accountability. Wherever there are shadows to work in, there will always be someone trying to fill them up with spam.

Can a DMA help you get reviews right?

Often, outsourcing your digital advertising efforts to a marketing agency that has experience dealing with your niche and industry allows them to properly manage your online presence and image, which can go a long way to helping your business not fall prey to such schemes. For more details on outsourcing your online advertising, contact Right Click Media today.