Amazon makes good on its promise to delete “incentivized” reviews

Amazon is making good on its promise to ban “incentivized” reviews from the web site, according to a fresh analysis of over 32,000 products and around 65 million reviews. The ban had been meant to deal with the growing issue of less trustworthy reviews that had been plaguing the retailer’s site, causing products with higher ranks than they’d otherwise deserve.

Incentivized reviews are the ones in which the vendor offers free or discounted services and products to reviewers, in exchange for recipients composing their “honest viewpoint” regarding the product in an Amazon review. But data shows these reviewers have a tendency to write more reviews that are positive general, with services and products making on average 4.74 movie stars away from five, in contrast to an average score of 4.36 for non-incentivized reviews.

As time passes, these reviews proliferated on Amazon, and damaged consumers’ trust in the review system in general. Which can impact consumers’ purchase decisions.

In accordance with current findings from ReviewMeta, a business that analyzes an incredible number of reviews to help consumers find those they could trust, Amazon is rapidly deleting incentivized reviews – also retroactively.

This might be especially interesting because Amazon had said during the ban’s statement that it would only remove incentivized reviews from older items if they were “excessive” or should they didn’t comply with the last policy.

But evidently, Amazon goes back to remove a lot of older reviews, as well.


Above: portion of incentivized reviews per day since 8/1/2016

ReviewMeta examined on Amazon’s progress by analyzing its own dataset of around 65 million reviews across 32,060 services and products in all groups.

It unearthed that Amazon had deleted over 500,000 reviews, 71 per cent which had been incentivized. The typical score of these deleted reviews had been 4.75 stars – clearly higher than the typical average. Some products also saw tens of thousands of reviews removed – such as this cosmetic scrub, which had 9,000 reviews removed, as an example.


Above: average rating for all reviews a day since 8/1/2016

The organization then analyzed a subset of services and products from in the last two weeks to get a feeling of how many incentivized reviews nevertheless remain on Amazon’s website.

Over the over 10 million reviews analyzed (a dataset according to those customers joined on the ReviewMeta website), only 1.5 percent of reviews had been incentivized.

“This is dramatically lower than we had been seeing formerly,” states Tommy Noonan, ReviewMeta CTO. “For every incentivized review we found on Amazon, there were 2.6 within our database that weren’t here anymore,” he adds, talking about the deleted reviews.

Exactly what the figures appear to suggest is, though Amazon is deleting a significant number incentivized reviews, it offersn’t was able to get these. Part of the issue might be that incentivized reviews are still rolling in, despite Amazon’s ban.

That said, the amount of incentivized reviews has fallen significantly following the ban, which, subsequently, has lowered the typical rating for all reviews. The day ahead of the ban ended up being enacted, for example, the average rating for several reviews that time was 4.73; on November 1, the average score for all reviews had dropped to 4.65.


What’s additionally interesting, Noonan records, is Amazon’s product ratings were mainly unaffected, regardless of the mass deletions. The item ranks – that is, whenever Amazon tells you a product is “4.5 away from 5 movie stars” – appear to have been completely adjusted to discount the incentivized reviews whenever determining the general score.

“We’re since many incentivized reviews effectively carry zero weight in Amazon’s item ratings,” says Noonan.

This might be most likely because a big part (95percent) of incentivized reviews didn’t have the “Verified Purchaser” label attached – meaning the customer had bought from Amazon straight. And unverified reviews were currently carrying no fat in Amazon’s rating system. (The exception being when they were the sole reviews an item had, whereby these people were accustomed calculate the general rating).

Noonan concludes that Amazon’s actions have actually adequately addressed the problem featuring its ban.

“It’s clearly not 100per cent perfect,” he claims. “It seems [Amazon has] eliminated a lot of the incentivized reviews and almost put an end to more being developed. They effectively killed this industry,” he adds.

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