Bazaarvoice's Quick Take on Reviews
A new tagging feature aims to make reviews more easily accessible.
Posted Dec 16, 2008
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Bazaarvoice released a new feature that works on top of its Ratings and Reviews platform. QuickTake is a customizable solution that allows reviewers to link to tagged items and provide a quick snapshot of the product -- or a "quick take" -- reduced down to select keywords. While Sam Decker, chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice, says his company has always had the tag functionality enabled, QuickTake is an enhancement that allows consumers to actually filter and navigate based on these keywords.

Currently, few clients have implemented Bazaarvoice's existing tagging feature, opting instead for just the "product attributes" function where products are given an overall rating of one to five stars (or other icon) and unstructured written reviews. "Most clients like to have the ratings attributes because ratings are so ubiquitous," Decker says. "They want sort of an overall average."

Clients can use one or all of the functions, but the reason many choose not to, Decker explains, is simply because of "exhaustion for the user." Though he doesn't have a mathematical calculation for precisely how much information you can ask before you start impacting the number of reviews you gather, Decker says there's bound to be a tradeoff.

Where tagging becomes particularly valuable is for products that have an overwhelming amount of reviews, and are, as Decker puts it, "rich in attributions." Patti Freeman Evans, a vice president and research director at Forrester Research, adds that the advantage of tags is such that they "allow consumers to use the words they're more familiar with, or are at least more familiar to them, in making a purchase decision." 

Given that, reviews become even more relevant and useful. This functionality indicates an evolution in the space of monetizing user-generated content. "It's smart people thinking about smart things," Freeman Evans says. "It's listening to the customer again."

Bazaarvoice's direct competitor, PowerReviews boasts a robust tagging structure that organizes its reviews based on a format that feeds directly into its review-based retail portal, Buzzillions.com. In terms of turning the tags into links that enable sorting and filtering, Freeman Evans imagines PowerReviews will soon add this functionality as well. "It's an easily replicable thing," she says. "There's no reason PowerReviews can't do this as well."

In contrast to its competitor PowerReviews, Decker says, QuickTake doesn't have to abide by a particular template in order to fit with a single anchor, like PowerReviews's Buzzillions.com. In that sense, he says, Bazaarvoice offers a more customizable and "limitless" solution. The service gives companies the flexibility, in addition to custom tags, to determine how they want to customize features such as the look, feel, and input method. Freeman Evans, however, questions whether or not these "limitations" are as limiting as they sound.

Most Bazaarvoice clients, however, do have a common denominator of review properties (e.g., overall rating, reviewer location, helpfulness measure). Therefore, when manufacturers syndicate reviews to their retailers, Bazaarvoice anticipates that not everyone will elect to include the same tags. In that case, only tags that match will be syndicated.

As product reviews continue to get more sophisticated, Freeman Evans imagines tagging will certainly play a big role in helping customers discover products they would never have found otherwise, and in turn, amplify cross sell and upsell opportunities. For instance, customers can search for all products others reviewed as "bittersweet." "Half the people don't know what they want when they get onto the site," Freeman Evans says. "They need help to discover things. This is one way they can do it."

The major difference between the two product review offerings lies primarily in their business model. Bazaarvoice is more platform oriented (i.e., Ratings & Reviews, Ask & Answer, Stories), while PowerReviews is looking for breadth and accessibility for retailers by providing a free service. "Both have really robust presentations," Freeman Evans says. "It's good to have more than one person in the marketplace. They push each other and I think they have good offerings."

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