Last week, Retrevo, the gadget and tech review aggregator decided it was going to start selling many of the tech products that it reviews. Retrevo made it clear that the fact that they are now in the business of selling products will have absolutely no impact on the reviews that they offer. This of course did nothing to stop the online debate over the objectivity of Retrevo now that it is selling gadgets. Will Retrevo pan a product that it can get a great margin on? Will the reviews of products that it makes a small margin on, not be as strong?
The Real Question Is – Is Review Aggregation The Best Approach?
As a product review site, that does NOT make any money on the products we review, we are very curious as to how the Retrevo move will pan out with the public. The issue to us is not so much that Retrevo will be less objective now that they sell products, it is does review aggregation really provide the best reviews?
At Dad Does we spend weeks using every product that we review in a real world setting. We focus on how the product will work for our audience of Dads and Moms. We believe that most products are not good or bad – their value lies somewhere in the middle and is HIGHLY dependent on who is using the product.
The Audience Matters – Take a Review Out of Context and It Loses Its Value
When we write reviews we are talking to our audience of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles – people who have kids in their life. When a site like Gizmodo (a gadget blog) writes reviews they are writing to their audience – which is primarily single men, age 18-35. Gizmodo might love a camera for being cutting edge, while we dislike it for requiring constant firmware updates, which parents have no time for. This makes perfect sense that sites write reviews that speak directly to their audience.
The problem comes when a review aggregator just takes the final rating from a number of different sites, with different audiences and puts it all together into one rating. We strongly feel that by removing the context and target audience from the reviews, they lose a great deal of their value.
Are Bloggers The Last True Source of Product Reviews?
As more and more product review sites go toward aggregation, commissions and computer algorithms to review as many products as possible – are bloggers going to be the last true source for real world, human, product reviews? Time will tell, but it does feel like honest, objective and audience specific product reviews should be put on the endangered list!
Good piece on CNET on the Retrevo change.