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Affiliate Product Reviews…tread carefully

August 21, 2009

If you have been reading glowingly positive reviews for the Ab Circle Pro, you might have come across an affiliate marketing system.  There are so many affiliate reviews on the internet regarding this product you are hard pressed to find anything else.

What I found astounding was that when the reviews weren’t overwhelmingly positive, they were overwhelmingly negative, some so bad that I laughed out loud  (this was my favorite, I still laugh when I read it):

KEEP YOUR MONEY!  The only thing that got any smaller on my entire body was my KNEES.  Bet I lost 2 inches of skin off each one.  Talk about PAINFUL “Carpet burn”.  Yeah…feel the burn you lying cow!  As all of the skin blisters off your knees!  What a rip off….sent that sadistic piece of garbage back and am thinking of getting my cable turned off so I can’t watch these stupid commercials anymore.  Fat and Happy and still have my $200 bucks.  REALLY…don’t buy it.

Still, what I came across a lot more of was ‘paid for reviews’.  I put it in quotes because the company isn’t directly paying people to review it positively, but instead they have an affiliate program.  They are part of dtm partners Performance Marketing.  Companies can go online and offer some amount of money from every sale to anyone who sends traffic their way.  Then another person can go to the dtm partners site, get a personal account number and put that into the link to their product in their review.  Every time someone buys the product from that link, the affiliate gets some money.  This affiliate reviews are all over the place (especially on twitter!).  You can identify them quickly because the link to the product always contains a pile of information after it, the personal account code information so the affiliate program can track them and make sure they get paid.  The real problem is that some of the people running these affiliate website reviews are licensed trainers.  Ethically this is so shady it makes me angry to think that people who are trusted to give proper advice to people who want help for fitness are just screwing them.  If you are giving a review and you are making money off of it, directly or part of an affiliate program you are OBLIGATED BY HUMAN DECENCY to announce this!

If there are multiple links to the product page in the review you are reading, then there is a good chance that you have an affiliate review.  As well, if you want, check the target of your link.  If it doesn’t simply have the destination website and no additional numbers afterwards, then it is probably an affiliate link.  Here is an example of one from the Ab Circle Pro:

Not all positive reviews are affiliate reviews.  It is in the best interest of a company to promote their product with positive reviews.  There is nothing stopping a company from ‘planting’ positive reviews on major websites to improve their public image.  When I was looking for reviews of the Ab Circle Pro, I came across this example of a reviewer thinking a positive review was a plant:

I bought it about a month ago.  I’m in great shape except for my stomach and I wanted a targeted workout.  I think this machine is fabulous and worth every penny.  I’ve already noticed a difference in my stomach, my arms and my bottom.  There’s different settings, different targeted workouts and all of them are easy to understand.
If I could only have one piece of equipment, this is the one I’d choose.  It was easy to put together and I don’t have any complaints about it’s quality.  Compared to my treadmill, it wasn’t so expensive and I think I get a better workout on it.

I don’t trust the comment this guest above is making…. It sounds so scripted like it’s someone from the company trying to do some positive PR work

I have to say that the positive review looks so bizarrely positive that I can’t imagine that a company would ever put up such a positive review because it looks so unnatural.  I don’t review anything that I have ever used that positively… seriously, I can’t imagine how well something would have to work, how much above the everyday that product would have to be before I would say that about it.  Honestly, my car would not only have to have gotten me around for five years without so much as a problem (it has by the way), and greet me with coffee every morning (it has yet to do this once) before I would say anything that good about it.

There is nothing preventing a company from posting their own reviews.  Anyone can make a review and if you have invested millions of dollars on factories in China and producing slick TV commercials, then you might want to invest a few hours and throw in some positive comments.

If you want to read some real reviews of the Ab Circle Pro you can go to this post of mine.

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