Three common challenges when operating online review platforms

Written by John Hornell

10 May 2021

Online reviews have become a key component of the customer buying journey. Recent Trustpilot research revealed that 89% of consumers globally now check reviews online before making a purchase. 

As consumers increasingly turn to their peers online for information and recommendations, they want to be confident that reviews are truthful and accurate. 

However, platforms are facing growing criticism from consumers about fake or misleading reviews posted online. Some consumers have even gone as far to suggest that only where a purchaser can be verified, should they be allowed to post a review.

Given the critical role fabricated reviews play with respect to consumer trust, platforms face a number of challenges to provide an authentic customer experience. 

Here are three common challenges that platform owners face.

1:  Fabricated reviews

A fabricated or fake review is where the user has not personally experienced the product or service they are reviewing, or the review is in some way biased.  A review could either be a biased positive review or a biased negative review. 

A biased positive review, for example, could come from someone connected with the business such as an employee, friend or relative in an attempt to boost the company’s score or ranking. 

Customers may also be offered an incentive to post a positive review. If platforms discover that you have been offering rewards in return for a positive review then the review will be removed, and other penalties imposed for repeat offenders.

A biased negative review is where a user sets out to post a review to lower a company’s score or ranking. This could be to undermine a competitor or even to try to blackmail a business.

2: Paid reviews

There are services online which offer to sell reviews and related services. These reviews tend to be sold in batches, with more sophisticated sellers offering a combination of positive, negative and even neutral reviews in an attempt to ‘game the system’.

3: Spam & scam

One of the challenges you may face will come from the spammers and scammers. From hacking services to insurance scams to pyramid schemes, unscrupulous individuals and groups are riding on your success to peddle their wares to your unsuspecting audience.  The very presence of spammers and scammers on your website hurts your brand and challenges your audience’s trust in your service.

As the popularity of online reviews grows, reflecting the continuing growth of e-commerce, the ability for companies to manually manage and clean data is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible. This is not a challenge that can be fully met at the human level; it needs to be tackled at the data scale. 

A way forward

A fast maturing AI technology sector is now supporting review platforms and eCommerce sites to automate the detection of illegal activity. This allows in-house teams to prioritise, and take effective action to provide a more authentic user experience. 

Why not download our latest paper The Science of Fake Review Detection to find out more.


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