Small and midsize U.S. businesses are expected to spend $700 million on tech tools or platforms to monitor customer opinions on the Web over the next year, more than double the spending in the past 12 months, according to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., media-research firm.
Some of the services make bold promises. Profile Defenders, which launched last year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said in a May 31 news release that it “100% guarantees to get rid of unwanted Yelp results” for a base fee of $5,000. “There are certain loopholes on Yelp that we’ve been able to manipulate legally,” Richart Ruddie, the chief executive, said in an interview.
RemoveMyName.com, Baltimore, also proclaims on its website that it “can attempt to remove the false reviews and bury [them] within Angie’s List in a short time frame.” But its president, Nicholas Collins, said in an interview that while it “can get full removal from some consumer-complaint sites,” in the case of Angie’s List it can’t, so it tries “to help businesses even the playing field” with positive content.