I've done a lot of product and book reviews. I used to HAVE to disclose it if I received a discounted or free product in exchange for a review. Now, that's a no-no. The review clubs like Giveaway Service and Tomoson also seem to be forbidden too, though I still get offers from them.
Yep...Recently, Amazon just made a GIGANTIC change to their review policies. They didn't change it for books, but they did for anything else. Now, you can't get a free or reduced price item in exchange for an honest review (except a book).
Here is some of the language from their policies. Full link follows:
Promotions and Commercial Solicitations
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative's, close friend's, business associate's, or employer's) products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors' products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.
- Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.
- Posting advertisements or solicitations, including URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.
The only exceptions are:
- You may post content requested by Amazon (such as Customer Reviews of products you purchased on Amazon or received through the Vine program, and answers requested through Questions and Answers). In those cases, your content must comply with any additional guidelines specified by Amazon.
- You may post an answer to a question asked through the Questions and Answers feature (but not a question itself) regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., "I represent the brand for this product."). We automatically label some answers from sellers or manufacturers, in which case additional disclosure is not necessary.
- You may post content other than Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., "I was paid for this post."). However, no brand or business may participate in the Community in a way (including by advertising, special offers, or any other "call to action") that diverts Amazon customers to another non-Amazon website, service, application, or channel for the purpose of conducting marketing or sales transactions. Content posted through brand, seller, author, or artist accounts regarding their own products or services does not require additional labeling.
Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.
For more information and examples, read About Promotional Content.
Here's more about promotional content:
About Promotional Content
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, promotional content - i.e., an endorsement by someone with a financial or close personal connection to what they're endorsing - is only allowed in limited circumstances, and must always be clearly and conspicuously disclosed as promotional content if not obvious from the context.
Because Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers are meant to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow shoppers, different guidelines apply to those features. The guidelines and examples below supplement our Community Guidelines regarding promotional content.
Promotional Content in Customer Reviews
Our goal is to capture all the energy, enthusiasm, and feedback (both favorable and critical) that customers have about a product while avoiding use of reviews to advertise, promote, or mislead.
To help illustrate, here are a few examples of reviews that we don't allow:
- A product brand posts a review of their own product
- A customer posts a review in exchange for cash, a free or discounted product, a gift certificate, or a discount off a future purchase provided by a third party
- A customer posts a review in exchange for entry into a contest or sweepstakes or membership in a program
- A customer posts a review of a game in exchange for bonus in-game content or credits
- A relative, close friend, business associate, or employee of the product creator posts a review to help boost sales
- A customer posts a review of the product after being promised a refund in exchange for the review
- A seller posts negative reviews about a competitor's product
- An author posts a positive review about a peer's book in exchange for receiving a positive review from the peer
Although products may be provided to customers for free or at a discount, and those customers may write reviews, any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews is prohibited, including conditioning any future benefit on writing a review or the content of the review. Benefits include but are not limited to: future opportunities to receive free or discounted products, continued membership in a program or club, cash rebates or gift certificates, entry into contests or sweepstakes, bonus digital content or credits, and ratings or referrals that may affect the recipient's chances of receiving other benefits.
Here are a few examples where a review is not permitted:
- The customer's eligibility to receive free or discounted products or other benefits in the future depends on their review
- The customer's continued membership in a program or club depends on their review
- The customer is a member of a review club where sellers or brands give the customer ratings or refer the customer to other sellers or brands based on their review
- The customer is a member of a review club where they are asked to register their Amazon public profile so that sellers or brands may monitor their reviews of products offered through the club
The following reviews are generally allowed, provided they comply with the above guidelines:
- A customer writes a review of a product purchased using a discount generally available to all Amazon customers, such as a Lightning Deal.
- A customer writes a review of a product received for free at a trade show, convention, or other similar venue where the provider does not monitor whether the customer writes a review or condition any benefits on writing a review or the content of the review.
Although promotional content is restricted in Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers as described above, there are other ways in which products may be promoted to customers. In all cases, the poster must clearly and conspicuously disclose their financial or close personal connection if not obvious from the context.
To help illustrate, here are a few examples:
- An author or publisher may post content in the book description, About the Author, and Editorial Reviews sections of the product detail page. To learn more about these features, visit Author Central. In this case, no additional disclosure is necessary.
- An author, artist, seller, or brand may submit content regarding their own products to their followers using their official account. In this case, the connection between the poster and the products is obvious, so no additional disclosure is necessary.
- A relative of an author may submit content to their followers as long as their relationship with the author is disclosed in the content (e.g., "Check out my spouse's new book!").
- Anyone may submit content to their followers in exchange for compensation as long as it is clearly and conspicuously disclosed (e.g., "I was paid for this post", "I received this product for free in exchange for this post").
- Anyone may post comments on Customer Reviews or Questions and Answers as long as any financial or close personal connection to the product is clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
- Eligible vendors and authors may use Amazon Marketing Services to promote their products through Amazon Pages, Product Display Ads, Headline Search Ads, and Sponsored Products, subject to those programs' requirements.
Anyone have experience with navigating these new muddy waters?
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Ronda Del Boccio
#1 best selling author, speaker, and Amazon Top Reviewer
About Ronda Del Boccio
Ronda Del Boccio is an award-winning and best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She tells transformational tales and helps visionary authors turn their dreams and imaginings into published books. See and order Ronda's books on Amazon.
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