An aggregate review of aggregate review services

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Product review search engine Retrevo was selected to launch at DEMO yesterday and it’s pretty cool. We’ve written about competitor ViewScore here before and also launched this month is yet another similar service that just launched called Wize. All of these sites will help you find reviews of electronics and other products and each of them has a unique feature set that adds value to the basic search and aggregation.

What could be better than services that aggregate reviews? Perhaps an aggregate review of these type of services. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’ve come to the right place. If neither gadgets nor reviews are your thing, I think the following are still interesting case studies in how to add value on top of product search and affiliate revenue generation.

Affiliate and contextual advertising have created a seductive opportunity for monetization that many site designers are seeking to cash in on. There are so many sites that try to monetize affiliate links that I’ve grown bored with most of them, but the following ones are more fresh and interesting than most. Between these three sites I think that Wize has the best chance for commercial success, but I really like some of the features of the other two sites, Retrevo and Viewscore.

Retrevo

Retrevo just launched yesterday. It discovers product manuals and previews them if in PDF format, displays information from manufacturer websites, searches blogs and forums, professional reviews and articles and offers a preview pane to easily switch between sources.

It does not offer numerical ratings, saved searches or much else. The variety of sources searched are very good, but not much value added on top of that. For a simple, powerful, thorough search – Retrevo is a good option. The company is backed by just under one million dollars from Alloy Ventures and is seeking further funding. They plan to roll out many new features in the future to support the full life-cycle of product ownership all the way to recycling things. Matt Marshall wrote about Retrevo earlier this week.

ViewScore

Israel based ViewScore uses numeric score averaging and a semantic algorithm to give products an average score out of 100 over thousands of professional reviews online. The review sources are ranked by another algorithm and user feedback. The site grabs product specs, compares similar products and offers comparative pricing from multiple online shopping sites. Users can also sign up to get an alert when a new review for a particular product is available.

Viewscore currently offers 60,000 reviews from 1,000 sources. Blogs and other social media are not included. The company says it hopes to expand it’s basic formula beyond gadgets and into many other fields. See our initial review of Viewscore here.

Wize

Wize aggregates reviews on far more than just electronics, it’s got home and garden, video games, health products and more. It searches shopping sites with user reviews like Shopping.com and Amazon and expert reviews from traditional product review sites. The company says it has 757,136 product reviews from 4,735 different websites for 19,806 different products. That’s a lot of websites, 4,735.

Wize quantifies what percentage of reviews were positive or negative (“users like it”) and it tracks buzz – by simply counting what percentage of reviews for a product were posted in the last 60 days and how the reviews rated that product relative to others in its class. The site combines user ratings with expert review ratings and the buzz formula above to give products an overall Wize rating. User research can be saved via a cookie, without creating an account.

The site is very aesthetically pleasing and probably has the best chance of commercial success. I think people like the combination of trusted professional sources along with simple up or down community voting. It’s not the most subtle, interesting approach here but I think it’s likely to work the best with large numbers of users.

Others

Also worth looking at again if review aggregation is what you’re in the mood for are ShopWiki (our review – it’s got loads of cool features) and Külist, which is strange but kind of cool. Metacritic is probably the overall review ag leader, but doesn’t do gadgets.

These are the types of sites that only so many people probably want to think about them too often – but when you need one they are quite handy. More are sure to pop up any day now, but I think the sites above provide a good look at the state of the art.

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