Ep 111: AI reviews on Amazon, Peak GMB listings, Implications of failing news sites

Will AI totally destroy the review economy & what will replace them? Does declining Google Business listing totals reflect “peak” GBP? As social media fueled news sites fail opportunity abounds for sites willing to build own audience

Ep 111: AI reviews on Amazon, Peak GMB listings, Implications of failing news sites

Part 1 starts 00:13 - Will AI totally destroy the review economy? What will replace reviews?

The appearance of AI-generated reviews on Amazon has significant implications for the future of reviews and will aid in increasing the scale of an already serious problem. While Google has attempted to combat this somewhat with critic reviews,  the decimation of local news will make it challenging to highlight authoritative reviewers for restaurants and other businesses. Reviews will remain relevant for low consideration purchases in categories where they can be trusted but will likely decline in overall importance in the local ecosystem

  • The issue of fake reviews is becoming increasingly concerning with AI-generated reviews now appearing on platforms like Amazon and Google.


  • The overwhelming amount of information online makes filtering and quality control mechanisms difficult, leaving low-consideration purchases more reliant on reviews in some categories than others.


  • Consumer reviews may no longer be a reliable alternative to get information


Segment Reference Article:

People are using A.I. chatbots to write Amazon reviews

Part 2 starts 11:39 - Does declining Google Business listing totals reflect “peak” GBP?

Google's annual economic impact report revealed that the number of businesses with claimed Google Business profiles dropped from 20.2 million in 2021 to 18.7 million in 2022, leading to a few theories including Google having reached “peak” SMB and Google's crackdown on spammy profiles and the erosion of consumer search behavior. However, the U.S Census Bureau reported an increase in new business formations in the same period. The discrepancy in the numbers highlights the difficulty in identifying an addressable market for small businesses.

  • Google released its annual economic impact report which showed a decrease of 1.5 million Google Business profiles from 2021 to 2022. 


  • One alternative theory for the decrease in Google Business profiles is that Google removed many spammy profiles, particularly in service categories, due to a more strict policy and a crackdown on spammers.


  • Comparison of 2022 with 2019 and 2020 sales data with 2021 removed reveals a linear increase from 16.7 to 17.3 to 18.7, but it depends on what happened in 2021, and whether that was a Covid aberration, a spam spurt or reflects an actual decline.


Segment Reference Article:

Google Economic Impact Report

Part 3 starts 23:13 - As social media fueled news sites fail opportunity abounds for sites willing to build own audience

The decline of Facebook's promotion of news and external links has led to the failure of news businesses that relied solely on the social media platform, such as BuzzFeed, Insider, and Vice. This shift in social media highlights the importance of owning one's presence and building a loyal audience through channels such as email newsletters, which offer opportunities for ad revenue and sponsored content. Local news and businesses should embrace this new reality and adapt their efforts accordingly to avoid vulnerability to the changing social media landscape. Local media brands still possess a trust factor that presents certain opportunities to be exploited despite limited resources.

  • The conditions of local news promotion are different as news businesses that relied on Facebook for their distribution of news and readership have largely failed.


  • Local news should lean into this new reality by owning their own presence, building their own list and thinking about the newsletter itself as a serious vehicle for ad revenue opportunities.


  • Publishers should explore opportunities to build their own audience through mechanisms like email


  • Crowdsourcing content generation from part-time journalists, independent writers, and solopreneurs to extend the life of their content on a larger platform in urban markets may also provide opportunities


Segment Reference Article:

It’s back to the future for a diminished digital news business

Disclosure: Note that while the images, summaries and titles may have been (actually were) created by AI the videos and the people on them are the real deal.