So, have you scored any amazing Black Friday deals yet? Maybe you picked up a smart speaker for $50 off? Maybe you’re hesitant because you don’t completely trust those online reviews at the world’s biggest e-tailer? Well, maybe you can trust them a little more now because Amazon has officially cracked down on incentivized reviews. This probably means the ratings are a little more honest now.

For a little bit of context, you have likely come across customer reviews on Amazon that are annotated with something to the effect of “I was given this product for free or at a significant discount in exchange for an honest review.” Those incentivized reviews may or may not be completely honest, though, because those “customers” are generally more inclined to give more positive reviews, because they hope to get more free (and discounted) stuff.

Amazon doesn’t like dishonesty and, as reported by TechCrunch, the e-tailer has now made good on its promise to ban incentivized reviews. In fact, it’s gone back and deleted thousands of these reviews, hopefully to better reflect what “real” customers think of these products.

Amazon Finally Bans Incentivized Reviews

Just look at that graph. Incentivized reviews are still trickling on through, but you can see the dramatic drop since Amazon started going around to eliminate them. Based on some data analysis, the average rating put forth by one of these reviews was 4.74 stars, whereas the overall average among all customers was closer to 4.36. Still positive overall, but that’s a pretty significant difference.

Amazon Finally Bans Incentivized Reviews

Curiously, the removal of these reviews hasn’t had too dramatic of an impact on the overall ratings associated with each product. That’s because the overall rating is not just a raw average of all reviews. It’s a weighted average using a “machine learned model.” That’s because reviews tagged with “Verified Purchaser” carry astronomically more weight than those that don’t. And more recent reviews carry more weight too.


So go ahead and splurge with a little more confidence today, through the weekend and into the holiday shopping season. It’s good news for the average consumer, but maybe not the best news for the people who have been taking advantage of these “incentivized review” programs.

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