It used to be that Amazon allowed companies to solicit reviews from customers by offering free or discounted products. Not anymore…
Amazon outlaws reviews given in exchange for free products
According to new community guidelines released this month, the online mega-retailer made it clear that incentivized reviews were no longer allowed.
On the company website it states:
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.
- Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.
- Posting advertisements or solicitations, including URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.
This change by Amazon may sadden those who have become accustomed to receiving free products from sites such as Product Elf, ART and others. But according to TechCrunch, Amazon felt the change was necessary in order to avoid ‘overwhelmingly biased’ reviews.
A study on the practice found that reviewers who had received a free product were ’12 times less likely to give a 1-star rating than non-incentivized reviews, and almost 4 times less likely to leave a critical review.’
However, this change will not affect book authors and publishers who are allowed to offer free or discounted copies of books to readers, so long as a review is not required to receive the free book or discount.
One major exception to the new rule is reviews given in exchange for merchandise received through the Vine program — an Amazon program whereby the company selects a group of ‘top-tier’ reviewers who have given helpful feedback on products in the past. According to Amazon, these reviewers are selected by invite-only, based on how helpful their reviews have been to other customers.
‘Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers,’ the company says on its website.