Why is there money to be made in online reviews of products and services? Because online publishers and vendors have an interest in advertising. “Buzz” is one of those terms for “getting the word out,” and reviews are one way to get “buzz.”
If customers and clients independent of any given business offer positive feedback about what the business offers, such commentary helps authenticate product value and trustworthiness. That is why testimonials are so prominently featured on many websites. online reviews website
I. The ethics question
Of course that naturally introduces an ethics question. If a reviewer has no vested interest in the business or product, the positive feedback is more likely to be unbiased. If the reviewer is the business owner’s mom (or close business associate)… or is paid to create the positive review, one has reason to take the review with a grain of salt, so to speak.
It is not that the reviewer with a profit motive is necessarily lying. It is just that he or she has motive for overlooking or downplaying product downsides even though in practice that may or may not be the case.
Perhaps more unsettling is when there is inadequate or no disclosure of the reviewer’s relationship with what he or she is reviewed. In the US not too long ago, the FTC rightly wrote regulatory guidelines on inadequate disclosure, though the problem may persist in various areas online and off.
Nevertheless, product endorsements and paid reviews have long been with us and are probably here to stay, and with them, opportunities for reviewers to make money.
II. Kinds of opportunities out there
Often the remuneration is small, however, suggesting that the risks in conflict of interest may be slight in such cases. For example, a movie reviewer may get a free ticket to see the show, or a book reviewer a book copy. Or a product reviewer may receive a complimentary copy of the product. Or a celebrity or niche expert may get whatever free advertisement comes with being a reviewer. Or one’s published review article may make a little money via Google AdSense, depending on traffic.
Professional reviewers, those with some notoriety, of course have a vested interest also in being perceived as objective. Any hint of their favoritism undermines their career. No doubt they also review products and services in competition with each other. So they are more likely to point out both upsides and downsides.