40% of web users don’t trust “most or all” online reviews

In the last 12 months there have been a number of scandals involving online reviews. Sites such as BuyOnlineReviews.net have been sued for promising to generate fake positive reviews for businesses on a host of local directories and subsequently there a crisis of confidence has emerged among consumers regarding online review sites.

New survey data from Maritz Research suggests that large numbers of web users don’t trust ratings and reviews that they see on prominent sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. Even among the most popular of sites, 40 per cent of users surveyed admitted they didn’t trust “most or all” of the content as accurate.

Within the report, TripAdvisor is shown to be the most trusted of all the current review sites and networks, with almost two-thirds (59 per cent) agreeing that “most or all” of the review content live on-site is accurate.

Since the BuyOnlineReviews.net scandal it would appear trust in Yelp.com has declined with only half (53 per cent) of users largely confident in the accuracy of its reviews. Additionally, less than half (49 per cent) believed in the accuracy of Google+ reviews.

One reason some web users will remain sceptical of the authenticity of online review sites is that they simply don’t contribute themselves and think the worst of others. Maritz found that men and the younger generation were indeed more likely to be sceptical than women or older users.

This report is contradicted by a recent Nielsen study which said that online reviews were among the most trusted sources of online information for consumers.

Its study revealed that 84 per cent of consumers now take on board recommendations from people they know, compared with 78 per cent back in 2007. Word of mouth remains a highly powerful marketing tool and if you provide a high quality product with warm, attentive service you’re on the right road to success.

The most increasing trend between 2007 and 2013 was the number of consumers who now take notice of text ads on mobile phones. More than a third (37 per cent) now trust text ads; and that’s a 19 per cent increase on 2007 (18 per cent).