Amazin’ reviews? Not really

  • Voices
  • July 17, 2017
  • Simon Bird
Amazin’ reviews? Not really

Predicting the future is hard in any subject; arguably it’s hardest of all in the field of technology. Indeed, as the technology journalist Warren Ellis wisely points out, “it’s best not to get involved in the business of prediction. It’s a quick way to look like an idiot”.

But there are things we do know that can help us look at future in a better context leading to more accurate predictions and less sounding like an idiot.

One of the current technology predictions is that brands are going to die due to Amazon and its product reviews.

It’s obviously important to keep an eye on what is now one of the worlds most powerful companies – especially as their business continues to expand into more markets and more countries. However, to think that user reviews are going to kill brands really is verging into the idiotic space.

The main reason the ‘brands are dead’ crowd gives for the untimely passing of brands is that user reviews are more trusted than advertising. This claim has a number of flaws.

Firstly, it implies that marketing needs to be trusted to work. However, a quick glimpse through several of the more effective campaigns of recent times—John Lewis, Old Spice, Cadbury Gorilla to name a few—suggests that this is not really true. There’s no real message to trust or distrust, just likeable stories about a travelling snowman, a drumming Gorilla or a topless horseman (though clearly trust is an outtake from the campaign likeability).

The second flaw with the ‘reviews beats advertising because they’re trusted’ line of thinking is just how untrustworthy consumer reviews really are. Short of some of the recent Facebook data they’re possibly one of the least trustworthy sources of data on the Internet. They are almost always based on a single product experience so rather than trying all possible cameras or toasters or cars in a given price range and then reviewing which one was best they review only one product. This is an okay system for pointing out utterly dreadful products (which are extremely rare) but it’s terrible for working out a ‘trusted’ ranking for products. Furthermore, every person has a different list of important features with which they judge a product's rating and this number is then also influenced by differences in how people might feel about the numbers themselves – for every person that thinks that 3/5 is a good score there will be someone else who thinks 3/5 is a pretty lousy score.

There are a host of other issues that further discredit the trustworthiness of user reviews such as how representative the user review base really is (is it biased by a distorted number of lovers or haters?), how many reviews there are in proportion to the total number of buyers (is it statistically valid) and also, somewhat ironically, the influence of brand perception on product experience. This latter point has been studied at length and is the reason why similar people can rate even the exact same product so differently.

So it’s little wonder that in 2016 a study from the University of Colorado comparing user ratings with ratings from evidence-based consumer reports across 1,272 products in 120 categories, found virtually no correlation between the two numbers at all. Among other things, they found the consumer reports to be predictive of resale value whereas the user reviews were not.

It’s hardly the first time brands have been about to die; social media was also supposed to achieve this. But it’s fairly easy to put to bed both of these claims by using a rudimentary understanding of human behaviour and/or statistics. Although, personally, I’m rather grateful to the people that continue to make these types of wild accusations because they’ve given rise to a number of very enjoyable talks from the likes of Mark Ritson and Bob Hoffman.

Without wanting to get too much into prediction and risk sounding like an idiot, (or as my friends would probably say sounding like even more of an idiot) I expect Amazon to continue to have a substantial effect on the retail sector as it expands around the world and gets the likes of Alexa up and running but if it does kill brands (which I think extremely unlikely) it will not be because user reviews are more trustworthy than advertising.

  • Simon Bird is the group strategy director at PHD.  

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Ads of the Week: 26 March

  • TVC of the Week
  • March 26, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the Week: 26 March

A round of applause for Motion Sickness and DDB.

Read more

Marketing industry calls on global advertising and agency community to support change in light of Christchurch attacks

  • Advertising
  • March 26, 2019
  • ANZA and Comms Council
Marketing industry calls on global advertising and agency community to support change in light of Christchurch attacks

The Association of New Zealand Advertisers and the Commercial Communications Council have released a second open letter to the global advertising and agency community, the next step in their quest to inspire a global change from social media platforms in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. ​​

Read more

No Facebook accountability or contrition over terror attack - Privacy Commissioner

  • Media
  • March 26, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
No Facebook accountability or contrition over terror attack - Privacy Commissioner
Photo: Supplied / Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Facebook needs to take accountability for its role in the Christchurch terror attack, which was live streamed on the social media site, the Privacy Commissioner says.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
Eye-tracking research proves JCDecaux delivers meaningful connections
Sponsored content

Eye-tracking research proves JCDecaux delivers meaningful connections

With the media mix greater than ever, country head NZ Mike Watkins talks us through JCDecaux’s eye-tracking study and how its billboards attract attention.

Two 'D's making a 'B': DDB Worldwide gets back to its roots with a new visual identity

  • Advertising
  • March 25, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Two 'D's making a 'B': DDB Worldwide gets back to its roots with a new visual identity

DDB has introduced a new visual identity that the agency says captures the essence of who they are, as well as being an outward symbol of its thinking, work and people.

Read more
voices

Why love always trumps hate, as shown by a Twitter experiment

  • Opinion
  • March 25, 2019
  • Mike Hutcheson
Why love always trumps hate, as shown by a Twitter experiment

If the terror attacks on two Christchurch mosques proved anything, it's that one senseless act can leave a nation in despair. But what does the data tell us about human's ability to commit acts of love, versus acts of hate? AUT professor Mike Hutcheson reflects on a Twitter experiment carried out years ago that measured just this – and says there's hope for us yet.

Read more
More than one model in the sea, part three: how organisations are taking the reins of their advertising
features

More than one model in the sea, part three: how organisations are taking the reins of their advertising

The marcomms industry is a fluid place. Clients come and go, new screens and platforms lure audiences’ eyes, talent moves from place to place, and in the face of these changes, the most efficient way to get a job done may not always be the same. Erin McKenzie takes a look at some of the clients doing it for themselves and the changing role of agencies, and finds there's more than one model in the sea.

What's inside NZ Marketing's Agency Issue 2019

  • Gratuitous self-promotion
  • March 25, 2019
  • StopPress Team
What's inside NZ Marketing's Agency Issue 2019

The latest issue of NZ Marketing came off the printers this week and is making its way to our subscribers. Delving into adland, the 96 pages cover the state of your industry in 2019, the challenges it faces and how it’s evolving.

Read more
Social responsibility: Facebook in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attack
news

Social responsibility: Facebook in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attack

Friday 15 March started out as a day of hope in New Zealand. Social media was awash with posts, images and stories about the nation’s teenagers taking to the streets to demand action on climate change. Tens of thousands of school students took part in the demonstrations, which stretched the length of the country from Southland to the Bay of Islands. However, by late afternoon, social media was filled with a completely different nationwide movement: an outpouring of grief about the Christchurch mosque terror attack.

AIA appoints Anthem for New Zealand rebrand

  • Advertising
  • March 22, 2019
  • StopPress Team
AIA appoints Anthem for New Zealand rebrand

AIA has appointed Anthem to oversee its rebranding in New Zealand.

Read more

StopPress noticeboard: 21 March

  • Noticeboard
  • March 21, 2019
  • StopPress Team
StopPress noticeboard: 21 March

Deals, expansions, launches and acquisitions across the Industry.

Read more

Grey Matters: boycotting digital behemoths and strength in diversity

  • Voices
  • March 21, 2019
  • Graham Medcalf
Grey Matters: boycotting digital behemoths and strength in diversity

Graham Medcalf takes a look at the week that was, covering advertisers moving away from Facebook, Google and YouTube, and the value of inclusive ads.

Read more

SXSW 2019: E–M–P–A–T–H–Y Find out what it means to me

  • Voices
  • March 21, 2019
  • Sarah Geel
SXSW 2019: E–M–P–A–T–H–Y Find out what it means to me

Anthem’s senior account director, Sarah Geel, looks at how empathy is turning the dial on customer experience.

Read more
“Have our own voice”: Hello Zukeen on taking risks, celebrating the arts and the joy of magazines
news

“Have our own voice”: Hello Zukeen on taking risks, celebrating the arts and the joy of magazines

StopPress talks with Sam Fraser-Baxter, editor of arts and culture magazine Hello Zukeen, about self-publishing, the magazine's nonsensical name and the expectations of print.

How media plan to cover the accused Christchurch shooter's trial

  • Media
  • March 20, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
How media plan to cover the accused Christchurch shooter's trial
The accused in court Photo: NZME

Media outlets have begun discussions on how best to cover the court case of the accused Christchurch terrorist without giving him a platform for propaganda.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit