The Power of User-Generated Video Product Reviews & Testimonials [Research]

The Power of User-Generated Video Product Reviews & Testimonials [Research]

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ComScore and EXPO Communications did some research to look into how effective user-created video content can be. Namely they looked at the effectiveness and contents of video product reviews /testimonials made by users. The results might be somewhat surprising. In a nutshell, the research into  the marketing potential of user-generated video content, indicated that the highest performing user-generated product reviews contained many of the sales effective elements seen in professionally-produced television commercials. Additionally, rates of presence of many of these elements were greater than those typically seen in the rival digital format of banner and rectangle display ads. Really, that should come as no surprise to anyone.

Videos were scored using comScore ARS’s content assessment methodology, ARS Zipline, which is used in the marketing industry as a means of quantifying the potential of advertising creative to be recalled and to persuade consumers.

The Research – User-Generated Video Product Reviews & Testimonials

It all sort of sounds like a way to drum up business to me but there might be some nuggets of wisdom in here. I say it sounds like they’re trying to drum up business because all of the 25 product videos used in the research were from the EXPO online product review database as opposed to going out and finding them in freely available places. So the data is most likely skewed favorably as I’m sure there are set guidelines at EXPO on what constitutes a good video review and what should be included versus those out “in the wild” which had no real guidance and were done just because people love or hate a product and wanted to tell the world.

ARS Zipline Technical Scores for User-Generated Video
Total U.S.
Source: comScore ARS
ARS Zipline Technical Score % of User-Generated Videos (n=25)
Below Average Range (0-29)0%
Average Range (30-50)68%
Above Average Range (51-100)32%

The TV and digital ads were selected from the ARS database, which includes ads that were pre-screened by clients and then submitted for qualification via copy-testing.

All of the videos were then scored on a scale of 1-100 based on comScore ARS’s validated elements of video persuasiveness and memorability, such as the presence of rational, emotional and structural attributes. The distribution of scores for the 25 select cases demonstrated that there is potentially much marketing value to be mined from user-generated video content. Among the highest performing videos were reviews for Clairol, Gain, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, LG Electronics and Apple.

The (somewhat) surprising thing is how many of those videos scored above average. A full 1/3 of them managed to hit the top mark meaning they have a good many factors in them that could make people act on them. It seems that living in a consumer-oriented and commercial environment all these years has rubbed off on our behavior patterns and we all instinctively know how to make proper advertisements. Now, what I think would be a really valuable set of research findings would be to compare these EXPO reviews, which were specifically designed to make products look good (in my opinion) and compare them against the aforementioned user created content out in the wild and then do this same sort of breakdown. I’m betting that those videos will have a lower overall score.

On top of containing key persuasive elements the EXPO user-created video product reviews were also found to work well with other forms of media. As the reviewers, who often receive the product for free from Expo it seems, created their video reviews, they naturally focused on the product itself as well as their experiences with it. This worked to create a strong brand presence and communication of such elements as product convenience and quality, which are key rational elements in increasing an ad’s persuasiveness to a prospective buyer.

They stated that it also complemented other forms of advertising but didn’t really specify how aside from the fact that the videos had strong branding. Of course when people are holding and using products and making videos talking specifically about those products, one would believe there is naturally a strong branding there. I mean, that’s just common sense, I don’t need some big spiffy report to tell me that.

Digging Deeper Into User-Generated Video Product Reviews

I did a little extra legwork on this one and found out some interesting facts about EXPO. On the site they say:

All members must acknowledge that they purchased the product themselves and are bona fide users of the product. They further acknowledge that they do not work for the manufacturer or its competitors

However, it clearly states in several example videos that the users were given the products for free. Those products are part of the EXPO Tryology program where brands do testing prior to or at product launch in return for their opinions.

EXPO moderates and rejects content that does not meet our standards for decency, quality, relevance, and authentic owner opinion. EXPO publishes all quality video reviews, regardless of positive or negative opinion expressed.

I’m going to assume that means they delete the negative ones because, who would ever want a negative review of their product, right? I’m sure we can find most of those on YouTube or someplace else anyway.

In regards to the users who are making the videos, they’ve created 300,000 video product reviews across EXPO’s community of 60,000 members. 68% of recent creators have shared their Facebook, Twitter, personal page or myspace profiles with EXPO.

EXPO rewards members with points and free products. In one video talking about EXPO I saw that points could be used to receive a new Flip  Camera, one woman stated that she’s received over $125 worth of Amazon gift cards. One even said “it’s fairly easy to accumulate points rather quickly if you’re willing to do a little bit of work.”  Of all the videos I saw there were 19 people, 3 of them were men. So it seems that EXPO is playing up the fact that housewives are both the target audience for a lot of these products as well as the ones interested in doing the reviews, even if they did so subconsciously. Considering the business they’re in, I don’t think anything was done without careful planning on their website.

It seems that the full research isn’t readily available to read through. I’m going to try and get my hands on it and also to attend the webinar on Wednesday, November 3 at 1 p.m. ET to further explain the methodology and results of the study.

To register for the webinar please visit:

The Take Away For User Video Product Reviews

It’s no surprise that user-created video product reviews would be useful and have a lot of potential to help sell products. After all, hearing right from other people who might be just like you is what it’s all about. In the video game industry people often do game reviews as part of their journalistic work, like me. However, the reason that these reviews are so important is mostly because, I’m a gamer. I love games and when I go and play a game I want the same things other games want – value, entertainment and a great experience. Some reviews at GDN can total up several thousand hits on launch week. There are sites out there that aggregate reviews scores. Those aggregated scores are then used by some game developers and publishers as milestone and performance markers. I have heard mention that if game X receives 80 or higher aggregate score the development team would get Y bonus. So there you go, gamer opinions are powerful, why would it be any different for dishwasher detergent, consumer electronics or any other consumer product?

What this really tells me is there is also some room for abuse of this. I’m not in any way shape or form saying EXPO is abusing the system, I’m just looking at the big picture. Many people certainly wouldn’t make video reviews for free. They’re time consuming and require both having the product and the means to make the video. But I can certainly see where some unscrupulous types might create fake user-created reviews and pass them off as something else. It is of course illegal and many countries now have strict user testimonial laws that prohibit that sort of thing to help protect consumers.

I also see how this could be hugely beneficial to you as video advertisers and marketers. EXPO knows this also and offers a white label user-generated content management system as one of their products.  Giving your consumers something back in return for their time and opinions could certainly add up to a win-win situation. You might create some added brand  loyalty in those that made the videos and the videos could then also work to increase your market share, all that on a fraction of what a full-on TV or online ad campaign costs? Sure sounds like something to look into.


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