Amazon is cracking down on inaccurate product reviews by banning any that were "incentivised," except—that is—for those that come from its own Amazon Vine program.
Until now, Amazon allowed businesses to offer products to customers in exchange for a review, provided the affiliation was disclosed in the text. It's common to see something like "I received this product for free or at a discount in exchange for my honest, unbiased review" while browsing the site. Unfortunately, while some incentivised reviews may be authentic, many tend to be overwhelmingly positive. For shoppers looking for accurate reviews on potential purchases, this is a big problem.
A recent study of over seven million reviews by ReviewMeta found that incentivised reviews (those that contained some kind of disclaimer text) were rated 0.38 stars higher than non-incentivised reviews. That might not sound like much, but even with this small bump, products could be boosted from the 54th percentile to the 94th percentile, effectively creating a "Top Rated" product. The study also found that incentivised reviewers were 12 times less likely to give a 1-star rating, and nearly four times less likely to leave a critical review.