In the United States, product ratings and review has grown to become a major factor that influences internet users when deciding where to shop online. In a 2017 survey on the most common purchase influence among online shoppers in the United States, 68 percent of respondents stated that trustworthy reviews was their strongest influencing factor. According to the survey, the primary reason why internet users leave online reviews was to inform others about their customer experience and, overall rating or score ranked as the most important reasons for reading online reviews on products and services.
In another survey regarding the frequency in which users comment on specific digital media, 14 percent of respondents were reported to make or post comments on review sites at least a few times a week. During the course of an April 2017 survey, 41 percent of respondents stated that most of the time they read online reviews for new products before making a purchase and, 38 percent stated that online reviews are very important in influencing their decision to purchase a product.
As of March 2017, product reviews and ratings were by far the most popular types of user-generated content submitted by online shoppers and a survey on the impact on user-generated content found that 30 percent of online shoppers strongly agreed that user-generated content such as customer reviews and rating increased their purchasing confidence. In an October 2017 survey 35 percent of respondents claimed to always read online reviews to determine if a business is good or bad.
Some of the most popular online review sites for conducting research on local businesses include Google, Yelp, Facebook, Consumer Affairs and Yellowpages.com. In the third quarter of 2017, Yelp alone generated net revenue of over 220 million U.S. dollars and reaching over a hundred million unique mobile visitors in that time period. The reliability of only customer reviews has been generally considered questionable owing to the prevalence of abusive practices akin to ballot stuffing of either favorable reviews by the seller or, negative reviews by competitors.