Nov 29, 2019

Fake 5-star reviews proliferate online

Packages are scanned to be loaded onto delivery trucks at the Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J. Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Fakespot Inc., which finds fraudulent reviews, found more than a third of online reviews on major sites are generated by robots or people paid to write them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: "The likelihood that consumers who read reviews will buy a product can triple based on the number of reviews it has," based on 2016 research cited by the N.Y. Times' Sapna Maheshwari.

Why so many reviews are shady: Services allow sellers to connect with consumers who are willing to buy and rate products online for payment, The Times reports.

  • "Positive ratings not only drive sales but can increase the odds that products appear high in search results."

A tipoff that many reviews are phony: They're so overwhelmingly positive.

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Influencer marketing comes to cybersecurity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The cybersecurity community is reckoning with influencer culture for the first time after several popular figures ran paid advertisements on their social media accounts.

The big picture: For years, the world of cybersecurity experts has operated more like a scientific community than a commercial one — and, until very recently, more like a counterculture than a service. The paid posts provided a glimpse of a corporate sponsor-driven future for security specialists surprised to find out that corporations knew who they were.

Go deeperArrowNov 21, 2019

Holiday shoppers are unfazed by recession fears

Reproduced from an Experian chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

More Americans say they are worried about a recession next year and are getting more cautious about their spending habits and debt, but that didn't slow down their holiday shopping.

Driving the news: Data from Adobe Analytics shows Black Friday spending increased by nearly 20% over last year, rising to $7.4 billion, even as fewer retailers offered big in-store discounts. Brick-and-mortar stores saw an overall 6% decline in sales, according to preliminary data from ShopperTrak.

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019

The consumer confidence gap shrank in November

Data: The Conference Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

The gap between consumers' confidence in the current state of the economy and their outlook for future economic conditions shrunk slightly in November, according to closely watched data released by The Conference Board on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "For some time, consumers have been more positive on current conditions, but have had a more wary eye on the future. That appears to be changing, at least at the margins," Jim Baird, Plante Moran Financial Advisors' chief investment officer, wrote in a note to clients.

Go deeper: Consumers scaled back plans to buy a new car in October

Keep ReadingArrowNov 27, 2019