Paid Video Reviews Trustworthy?

A article recently trumpeted the rise of the video product review. With e-commerce plagued by fraudulent reviews, author Sean Rosensteel believes video represents user-generated content’s knight in shining armor.

“These reviews have more authenticity than traditional written reviews as they’re no longer posted by faceless people. By being able to see the body language and mannerisms of the person in the video, we can judge their sincerity–if they claim it’s a good product, we’re more likely to believe them,” Rosensteel writes.

Proctor & Gamble‘s laundry detergent brand Tide is offered up as an example of a successful user-generated product video campaign. P&G recently added Pods to its product lineup, and product videos (both from the brand and from users) feature prominently on the company’s website.

Yet for me, the videos raised as much question about authenticity as a written review would. All of the 30 or so user-generated videos that I watched came from, a site that solicits consumer-generated video. Each of them included a disclaimer such as:

This consumer received rewards from for providing their opinion of this product.

This consumer is reviewing products received for free.

As a viewer, I’m left wondering what the free giveaways mean for the integrity of the product reviews. Free name-brand detergent? What’s not to like. And somehow it doesn’t all add up. For example, Kristen H. said she would “recommend it to others and use it myself. Thumbs up.” Nary a criticism, but she gave Pods only two stars.

Computer scientist Panos Ipeirotis recently predicted that product reviews will go semi-professional in the near future. So we’ll likely be seeing more of this type of compensation. But are “paid” video reviews helpful? Or does the compensation undermine the integrity of the review process?

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