Amazon to Ban Incentivized Reviews

Amazon has been fighting back against ‘fake’ reviews on products for years now, even filing lawsuits against individuals and companies that use or create fake reviews.  They had gotten to the point where the vast majority of reviews are written by people who have actually used the products (or those who are making ‘compilation reviews’), but it seems that isn’t enough. Amazon is now making it against their rules to do incentivized reviews, except through their Amazon Vine program.

Incentivized reviews are when a company provides their product to a person so that they can use it and then provide a review.  This type of thing has been done by companies for a very long time, and for certain types of products it can be very effective. Prior to this rule change, incentivized reviews were allowed, but only if the reviewer disclosed that they got the product for free or with a discount.

Amazon commented on the change saying that these reviews, “make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.”

So with that comment, why are they banning them?

The answer likely lies with Amazon’s Vine program, which was launched back in 2007.  This program allows publishers and manufacturers to gain access to reviews from independent users for their products.  The company can send out products to the individuals, but they can have no further interaction with the reviewers.  Amazon seems to think that this helps to ensure the reviews are honest and not influenced in a way that makes the review unreliable.

Of course, this is a paid program, so Amazon will also be making more money by funneling people toward this program.

What's your opinion?