Tom Collinger | Executive Director | Northwestern University
Spiegel Digital & Database Research Center, senior director of the Medill Distance Learning Initiative and an associate professor. He is the former associate dean and chairman of the Integrated Marketing Communications program. Tom is a widely recognized expert and speaker in the areas of integrated marketing communications, direct, database and e-commerce marketing management, customer loyalty, customer relationship management and channel integration.
Tom is the president of The TC Group, a marketing strategy consulting firm. Some of his clients have included: Advanta, Wells Fargo Advisors, Discover Card, Doubleclick/Google, Benesse Corp./Japan, Nimblefish, Sony and Walt Disney Attractions. He is an advisor to 4C Insights and a member of the board of directors of SkyZone.
He has been on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Consumer Marketing, a former senior vice president of Leo Burnett Company and former vice president and general manager of Ogilvy & Mather Direct. He also served as chairman of the board of directors for The Cancer Wellness Center in Northbrook, Illinois.
Tom was named one of Target Magazine’s top 40 “Direct Marketing Professionals under 40” in 1990. He received the Most Inspirational Professor Award for the Medill IMC graduate program in 2004 and the Best Instructor Award in 2006.
Ed Malthouse | Research Director | Northwestern University
Ed is a research fellow at the Media Management Center, a partnership between Medill and Kellogg. His research interests center on media marketing, database marketing, advertising, new media and integrated marketing communications. He develops statistical models and applies them to large data sets of consumer information to help managers make marketing decisions. Ed is also currently the co-editor of “Medill on Media Engagement.”
He was the co-editor of the Journal of Interactive Marketing from 2005-2011. His professional experience includes software engineering for AT&T Laboratories, corporate analytics training for Accenture, BNSF, Digitas, Nuoqi and Capital One, and developing segmentations for Cohorts and Financial Cohorts and Motorola.
Ed is a fantastic teacher and has won several teaching awards, including IMC Teacher of the Year in 2014 and 2010, and the Robert B. Clarke Outstanding Educator Award for Direct Marketing Educational Foundation in 2008. He received best paper for his 2012 publication in “Academy of Indian Marketing.”
He has also been a finalist for best article of the year in the Journal of Service Research twice in the last five years, in 2011 and 2013. Ed received the Walter Award for Research Excellence in 2009, and the Don Kuhn Non-profit Research Grant in 2007.
PowerReviews recently commissioned a study with Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center to better understand the influence of ratings and reviews as a whole and the role various review elements play on the probability of sales.
In this 30-minute webinar, Tom Collinger, Executive Director, and Ed Malthouse, Research Director, both of the Spiegel Research Center, share the findings of this study as well as practical recommendations for brands and retailers. They’ll discuss:
The influence of a product’s average star rating on purchase likelihood
The impact of star ratings across product segments, price ranges, and high and low consideration product categories
How the length and number of reviews for a product affect sales
PowerReviews is growing rapidly. In just 12 short months, we’ve increased headcount by 200%. In fact, we’ve recently moved both our San Francisco and Chicago offices to accommodate growth, enable better collaboration, and provide our employees with a positive, energized, and all-around great work environment.
Earlier this month, tech professionals throughout the city had the opportunity to check out our brand new office space and see what life is like at PowerReviews when we hosted Built In Chicago’s Built In Brews, a monthly happy hour hosted by a different, high growth tech company in Chicago.
Built In Brews was a sold out event with more than 270 attendees, including a special guest, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor spoke to attendees about the growing tech scene in Chicago, and how graduates from around the country are choosing to move to Chicago because it’s a great place for folks to launch (and grow) their careers.
Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews and founder of Built In Chicago, also talked about the growth of PowerReviews and how Chicago has been an ideal, vibrant environment to foster this growth.
The theme of the event was “Star Wars: Ratings & Reviews,” tying together our fun culture with our fantastic software. As you can see, some folks took the theme pretty seriously.
Interview with an Expert’ is a recurring series on the PowerReviews blog. We recently sat down with Kristal Akhavan, the manager of the moderation team here at PowerReviews, to get some insights on the process of moderation and its importance.
PowerReviews: What is the main goal or mission for the moderation team? Kristal Akhavan: The moderation team’s main focus is to ensure that all content displayed on our client sites is authentic and free from fraud, slander, foul language, competitor or price references, and offensive images and videos. Transparency and authenticity have been core focuses at PowerReviews and my team works to ensure that the content provided to consumers adhere to those standards.
PR: What does it mean to be authentic? KA: All of the content submitted through the PowerReviews platform (reviews, questions, answers) pass through an industry leading fraud prevention system and moderation process. All of our clients are expected to comply with these standards. Unlike others in our space, we don’t allow clients to implement policies that would purposely hide negative content. Our policies are 100% neutral and independent of a star rating, which allows for a truly authentic experience for shoppers.
PR: Could you take a minute and go through the steps of the moderation process? KA: First and foremost, each piece of content goes through a profanity filter, which looks for and identifies inappropriate words. After a review successfully passes through the profanity filter, my moderation team reviews each piece of content and our fraud detection technology checks to ensure all content is free from fraud. Finally, once the reviews are approved by the moderators and displayed on a client site, customers have the ability to flag a review if they believe it is inappropriate, offensive, etc.
PR: You mentioned that the moderation process begins with the profanity filter. Can you describe what that is? KA: Simply put, the profanity filter prevents inappropriate content from sneaking into reviews. Our profanity filter is synced with Urban Dictionary to ensure all iterations of foul language will be detected. Our clients also have the opportunity to add words to the profanity filter, if they choose.
Because the profanity filter step occurs before a review is submitted, customers have an opportunity to edit their reviews and re-submit, ensuring our clients capture more authentic and relevant content.
PR: You also noted that your team uses fraud detection software. How does it work? KA: Through industry leading fraud detection technology, we track devices’ digital fingerprints to ensure all of the content is fraud free and authentic. Fraud detection prevents spam, duplicate content for rewards, sabotage and promotional content from making it on to our clients’ sites. Since January of this year, we’ve removed more than 14,000 fraudulent reviews. Our engineering team is also developing additional technology to better identify and eliminate fraudulent reviews before my team even sees them.
PR: PowerReviews emphasizes the importance of human moderation. Why is moderation performed by a person better than a machine? KA: While the profanity filter can identify inappropriate language and we have software to detect fraud, computers aren’t equipped to notice instances of innuendo in a review. Others in the space use machine learning in place of moderators, but we’re focused on ensuring our content is relevant and appropriate for our clients and no phrases with innuendo or foul language make it on clients’ sites for consumers to view. 100% of our content is moderated by my team to ensure nothing slips through.
PR: How long will it take for a review to go through the moderation process and display on my site? KA: Our standard is to moderate all content in 72 business hours, but it’s usually quicker than that.
PR: There has been a lot of talk around fake reviews in the news recently. How does PowerReviews ensure reviews are authentic? KA: My moderation team has a set of guidelines they follow in order to ensure content is authentic. We never reject reviews simply because they’re negative. In fact, 86% of consumers seek out negative reviews while they shop, so businesses shouldn’t fear 1 or 2 star reviews on their site. The moderation team also never edits customer content and we reject any reviews which violate the moderation policies.
PR: Could you give some examples of violations to the moderation policy? KA: Content which includes items like clear advertisements, profane or obscene language and fraud are all examples of violations. There are a list of other violations, but the moderation policies were created to ensure our clients provide authentic, quality, and appropriate content to their consumers.
PR: What content does your team moderate? KA: In addition to review content, the team also moderates questions submitted by consumers, answers submitted by consumers, images and videos.
PR: Does the moderation team have the ability to properly moderate in industries where there are additional regulations, like Pharmaceuticals? KA: Definitely. We’ve added specialized moderators to our team who focus on specific industries, such as pharmaceuticals. We’ve also been able to efficiently set up processes to ensure that we can adhere to special rules in an industry, without slowing down the moderation process or compromising authenticity.
PR: A lot of the companies working with PowerReviews have international subsidiaries. Does the moderation team have the ability to moderate in languages other than English? KA: We currently moderate in 20 different languages including Spanish, Japanese, French, and Portuguese. We also have the ability to add needed languages for clients.
Do you have any other questions about moderation you’d like Kristal to answer? Do you have a moderation question regarding your specific industry? Leave your question in the comments!
Arit Cummings | Client Success Director
Arit has a background in client success in the online space. She’s currently responsible for the success of PowerReviews clients, taking a consultative approach to relationship management. Previously with Cappex.com, she led the client service initiatives and advised clients on marketing and recruitment strategies. Arit has held positions creating and editing user generated content for several websites and has also spent time managing a daycare. She started her career working with large corporate banking clients at JPMorgan Chase. Arit loves to travel internationally, explore new languages, read, and spend time with her English bulldog, Deniro.
Studies show that up to 80% of consumer reviews come from post purchase emails. It makes sense, then, that the single most important step that brands and retailers can take to grow their review content is to effectively use post purchase emails.
In this 30-minute webinar, Arit Cummings, Client Success Director at PowerReviews, will:
Explore best practices for generating more ratings and reviews through post purchase emails
Share how leading retailers and brands are successfully optimizing post purchase emails
Use industry benchmarks to help define your content collection strategy and measure your progress