Amazon recently sent out emails to marketplace sellers with the following message.
We recently updated our policies to prohibit incentivize reviews, including those posted in exchange for a free or discounted copy of the product. You are receiving this email because products you sell have received incentivize reviews in the past. If you attempt to acquire incentivize reviews going forward, your Amazon privileges will be suspended or terminated.
We consider a review to be incentivized if you have influenced or can influence the review directly or indirectly, including by monitoring whether a review is written and providing or withholding any benefit based on whether a review is written or the content of the review. Below are a few examples where a review is considered incentivize and is not permitted:
- You provide a free or discounted product, gift card, rebate, cash payment, or other compensation in exchange for the review.
- You provide or withhold free or discounted products or other benefits in the future based on whether the customer writes a review.
- You use a review service where reviewers’ continued membership depends on writing reviews.
- You use a review service where you can rate customers based on their reviews.
- You use a review service where customers register their Amazon public profile so that you can monitor their reviews of your products.
Incentivizing customer reviews violates our policies and may violate the Federal Trade Commission Act.
The following actions are generally allowed, provided you comply with the above restrictions:
- You might offer discounts that are generally available to all Amazon customers, such as Lightning Deals.
- You may give out free products at tradeshows, conventions, or other similar venues where you are unable to monitor whether the recipients write a review or provide or withhold any benefits based on whether a review is written or the content of the review.
The above changes apply only to product categories other than books. We continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advanced review copies of books.
Amazon changed the incentivized reviews policy earlier this month and throughout the month more details have been revealed.
What this email is saying is that Amazon is now analyzing reviews and detecting incentivized reviews automatically. We are seeing reports that a lot of these reviews are getting removed - sellers find their products stripped of all reviews, drastically impacting sales.
The key message here is that Amazon is willing to use strict measures to prevent incentivized reviews - not only by removing previously left reviews, but also suspending sellers who continue to get them. “If you attempt to acquire incentivize reviews going forward, your Amazon privileges will be suspended or terminated” is not to be taken lightly. Sellers we talked to have immediately stopped this practice, as we noticed when we found that review services are quickly loosing traffic.