Bazaarvoice Launches 'Trustmark' to Ferret Out Fake Reviews

Gartner Estimates 10% to 15% of Online Reviews Are Fake

By Published on .

Ever been burned by a fake product review?

According to a study by Bazaarvoice, a business-to-business player that provides ratings and review services for retailers, 48% of people in U.S. have come across reviews they find suspicious. Which is why Bazaarvoice has created a new "trustmark" logo that it hopes will become the Verisign of the future.

Lisa Pearson, CMO at Bazaarvoice, said the company would like the mark to become shorthand for consumers that the reviews they are reading have been authenticated by a third party. The company – who says 400 million people per month use its network to share opinions – vets reviews using both technology and human analysis.

Non-normal patterns
Matt Krebsbach, director-global public and analyst relations, said the company employs fraud-detection technology similar to what credit-card companies use that allow Bazaarvoice to track reviews at their source. "Sophisticated algorithms, alerting and filtering capabilities then enable us to identify, flag and report suspicious content, which are then reviewed by a dedicated team of analysts to make a final determination regarding their authenticity," he said.

For example, it looks for what Mr. Krebsbach called "non-normal patterns from a single source" to weed out bots and trolls and "illegitimate content submitted by a client's competitor" – or submitted by the client itself without being badged as such.

Which is more common than you might think. Gartner estimates that by next year, 10% to 15% of reviews will be fake, and Gartner analyst Jenny Sussman said, "many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions."

Clients piloting
Ms. Pearson said the mark is being piloted by a few clients, including Whirpool, Samsung and Leapfrog.

Bazaarvoice hopes to get the word out with promoted tweets (using the hashtag #EndFakeReviews), LinkedIn and banner ads. It's also created a series of videos aimed at businesses and consumers under the "Collected Perspectives" banner in which practitioners in the arts, journalism and social media discuss the importance of authenticity generally. Ms. Pearson said the idea is to break out of what sometimes can be a very dry b-to-b marketing mold.

But it's not doing any consumer advertising for the mark. "We'd love to have a gazillion dollar budget to back it," said Ms. Pearson, but since its expertise is in b-to-b the company is hoping it will be discovered through grassroots means.

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