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Change 1 of 6: Amazon Removing Reviews or The Great Amazon Review Abduction of 2018
Some of you have likely heard of or experienced a brand or product where Amazon was removing reviews over the last month or two. You—like everyone else—were probably asking yourself questions like, “How widespread is this?” and “Have other sellers lost as many reviews as me?”
We had the same questions. So our engineers started crunching the numbers. And here’s a glimpse of just how widespread Amazon’s latest review removal was. We should note that we are still working through the data to try to make it as clean as possible. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to reviews, including changes and discrepancies in variations.
For each top-level category in the Amazon US market, we looked at the top 10,000 best selling ASINs with at least 90 days of history. From that set of products, we looked at how many of the listings lost reviews, which listings lost the most reviews, and how many reviews the category lost as a whole.
Change 2 of 6: Reviews Being Blocked.
From our perspective, this was the scariest change of the six we’re listing here.
To summarize, Amazon seemed to have put proverbial speed limits in place when it comes to review acquisition velocity. For the month of May and into June, it seemed as though Amazon was limiting the number of reviews a product could obtain in a day. If you exceeded the threshold/speed limit, the product would be punished with a review block for some period of time ranging 3 to 7 days.
Two very interesting facts from this finding:
1) unverified and verified reviews were treated separately
2) the review limit was a static number.
After a bit of testing and observing, we noticed that receiving 3 unverified reviews in a day would cause Amazon to block the ASIN from receiving any additional unverified reviews. Similarly, after receiving 6-8 verified reviews in a day, Amazon would block the ASIN from receiving any additional verified reviews. And customers would see some form of this message:
From what we could tell, the first time a review block was initiated, the product was put on a 7-day review block (for both verified and unverified reviews). We believe that during this time Amazon conducted an audit, combing through the account to try to develop an understanding of the authenticity of the reviews. We believe Amazon would look at things such as the content of the seller’s email follow-up sequence, the referral path of the reviewer, etc. If everything checked out, the product’s review block would be lifted (meaning it was again eligible to receive reviews), and if things did not check out, the account was suspended.
But passing the initial suspension did not mean you were completely in the clear! The majority of products that continued to exceed the Amazon imposed speed limit would have the review block reinstated. If a product reached the limit of 3 unverified reviews in a day, it would be blocked from receiving any additional unverified reviews. But it could still receive verified reviews. Similarly, if 6-8 verified reviews were left in a day, then the ASIN would be blocked from receiving additional verified reviews. These blocks seemed to last for 1-3 days at a time. We saw several listings cycle through this process multiple times.
For our clients with products selling 1,000+ units per day, receiving 6-10 reviews in a day is not uncommon. It was quite surprising that Amazon would choose to use a static number versus a percentage of sales. And it creates a very frustrating experience for sellers.
This review blockage was not exclusive to ASINs offered by third-parties. Many of Amazon’s own high-volume products had review blocks in place at one point or another.
For the complete breakdown of information, check out our Blog post covering all of the details: https://viral-launch.com/amazon-blog/news-updates/amazon-removing-reviews