TurnTo CEO George Eberstadt responds to Bazaarvoice CEO Gene Austin’s blog post on open syndication

January 9, 2018 by George Eberstadt

Last Wednesday, Gene Austin, CEO of Bazaarvoice, published a discussion of the coming end of the Justice Department-mandated syndication relationship between Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews, on July 2, 2018.  As he stated, “Unless something changes, as of July 3rd, Bazaarvoice will no longer be required to accept content from PowerReviews brands for syndication to retailers in the Bazaarvoice Network.”

What does this mean for brands? Review syndication is about to get a lot more expensive.

Bazaarvoice charges brands to syndicate their product reviews to merchant sites in the Bazaarvoice network, whether the brand uses the Bazaarvoice platform for review collection or a third-party platform.  For the last 2.5 years, PowerReviews brand customers have been able to get around these fees because of the Justice Department decree which gave them very low cost access to the Bazaarvoice syndication network.  Now, PowerReviews brand customers are going to have to start paying the network access fees that Bazaarvoice demands, at best, or will lose access to the Bazaarvoice network entirely, at worst.  And since brands using the Bazaarvoice platform will no longer be able to threaten a switch to PowerReviews to avoid the network access fees, they are likely to see their syndication fees rise, too.

Anticipating this, TurnTo built a partnership with Bazaarvoice based on a realistic view of their business model.  This partnership enables brands to choose the reviews platform that best meets their needs and know they can still access the Bazaarvoice syndication network even if their platform choice is TurnTo.  Our brand customers make their own deal with Bazaarvoice regarding the network access fee, and we work directly with Bazaarvoice to ensure the data transfers run smoothly.  It’s a truism that partnerships only work when everyone wins, and we recognized a year ago that meant letting Bazaarvoice control access to their merchant network.  As a result, as of today, TurnTo is the only 3rd party product reviews platform that can assure brands ongoing access to the Bazaarvoice syndication network.

For merchants, the implications are different.  The consequences are going to be about reach rather than cost.

As the cost to brands to syndicate their reviews goes up, or if cross-platform access between Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews is cut off entirely, the number of brands whose reviews are available for syndication on either platform will go down.  Even if cross-platform syndication remains available, rising network access fees will be bad for the relationships between merchants and their vendors.  After all, why should brands have to pay a “network access fee” to a merchant’s reviews platform at all?  The real estate on the merchant’s product pages belongs to the merchant!  If brands pay anything for syndication, it should be a co-op fee to the merchant, not an access fee to the reviews platform.

With this philosophy in mind, TurnTo has developed a radically different syndication offering for merchants.  It enables merchants to syndicate in product reviews from any brand, regardless of their technology platform.  That includes brands that use reviews platforms other than Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews.  And there are no charges (!) for this service to either the merchant or the brands.  By removing both the cost and the technology limitations to syndication, TurnTo enables merchants to access the largest possible network of brand sources.  In one case, a merchant’s syndication network more than doubled after they switched from the Bazaarvoice/PowerReviews network to TurnTo.  TurnTo’s approach also eliminates any risk to merchants that their syndication network will be compromised in the future by spats between the technology platforms.

Like Gene, I am thrilled with the strength of our syndication offerings as we enter 2018.  For brands, we are the only alternative to the Bazaarvoice platform that can offer access to the full Bazaarvoice syndication network without a cloud of uncertainty.  And for merchants, we offer unrivaled syndication reach and an unrivaled value.  I thank Bazaarvoice for their partnership and look forward to working with them in 2018 as the market returns to a more normal competitive environment.  And I invite brands and merchants that would like to learn more about the syndication alternatives available to them to contact us.


Social Commerce Webinar – Vitamin Shoppe and Talk E-Commerce Tools

April 26, 2013 by John Swords

We recently hosted a webinar with Liveclicker, a provider of video commerce solutions, where we had the privilege to interview Karen Hansen, the Digital Product Manager for The Vitamin Shoppe and Robert Reed, the Video Producer for, regarding two leading e-commerce tools they recently adopted – social Q&A and video commerce.

In the webinar below, Karen and Robert discuss why they chose these tools and what results they’ve delivered.  Check it out!

Finding the ROI in Social Q&A – Webinar

July 17, 2012 by John Swords

Last Wednesday, George had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Tara Hunt, the Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Buyosphere, for inSparq’s webinar “Finding the ROI in Social Q&A.”  The webinar was part of inSparq’s 10-week Social Commerce Accelerator program to help merchants define and execute social commerce strategies that drive sales.

During the webinar, George shared his experience making customer Q&A work as a conversion and SEO tool on eCommerce store-fronts while Tara showed how social Q&A delivers value as a product discovery tool on a destination site.  It was a great pairing, if we do say so ourselves.

Hear what they had to say:

The Win/Win Challenge

June 25, 2012 by John Swords


Our partner, 500friends, has announced The Win/Win Challenge

Q: Who is 500friends?
A: A social loyalty platform

Q: What is The Win/Win Challenge?
A: The chance for you to win $25,000 or 1,000,000 airline miles

Q: How do I win?
A: Design the most creative implementation of 500friends LoyaltyPlus and be live by August 15, 2012

Are you up for the challenge? If so, follow the steps below:

  1. Learn more about 500friends and their loyalty and rewards offering
  2. Review the official rules page for The Win/Win Challenge
  3. Sign up and get started today, August 15 is right around the corner!

**Receive extra points for your integration if you add TurnTo’s Social Q&A Platform by August 15, 2012, as well.

The challenge is on……good luck!


3 “Holiday” Social Marketing Tips for Yahoo! Store Merchants

October 24, 2011 by John Swords

(This post was written by our partners at, one of the leading providers for the Yahoo! Store platform. They have a deep knowledge of ecommerce store building, organic search optimization, email marketing, paid search inclusion, and social commerce integration.)


Ecommerce merchants began preparations for the holidays over a month ago; some even started mid-summer. To prepare for the big holiday rush that most e-tailers experience, ramping up design, development, staffing, inventory, etc. is all part of the normal prep. list. But what about social media marketing?  Do the upcoming holidays mean e-tail merchants should multiply their messaging 800%, and wrap it neatly in a holiday promotional hum-along? Try that approach, and watch customers avoid you like the winter flu. But, you can’t be blasé about it either.  Tis’ the season to ring-in the sales, and no matter what kind of sleigh you’re driving, it takes social media mouthpieces to announce the Ho-Ho-Hos.

Here are three social media marketing tips to keep in mind as you build your holiday marketing campaign:

1)     Social media marketing isn’t just about the holidays. It takes time to build a following on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or wherever your target market is. If you don’t have anything in place by now, go ahead and start, but don’t do it just for this year’s holidays— Social marketing should happen throughout the year.

2)     Customize your messages for different channels, and avoid being repetitive with posts. While you may have spent hours writing a holiday sales blog, and want to post dozens of links to it to fans and follows, remember to at least change the text around the link each time you put it out there. Make sure to stir in a little seasonal cinnamon too. Some programs, like Tweet Deck, won’t allow duplicate Tweets anyway. Keeping it new won’t just get you new followers and more traffic, but it will keep your existing network from yawning—which is a prelude to ‘unfollowing’ or ‘defriending’ you. Also remember not to be a loner out there—and chat it up with others as you push your own messages.

3)     Ideally you want social fans to come back to your site to interact. Along with using on-site social engagement tools, like TurnTo’s best-in-breed Social Q&A product, take the time to develop custom on-site contests to encourage your fans to be ecommerce shoppers (not just social media lurkers). Check out the one-of-a-kind social media contest FastPivot recently built for

While there are literally dozens of strategies to keep your social media marketing healthy and cranking for the holidays, it’s important to start with the basics. For many Yahoo! Store merchants, launching social means creating accounts on the top platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and adding corresponding social media buttons to your site. This part is easy and convenient– It’s keeping it up and forever optimizing that becomes the challenge. It’s also important to distinguish between the social buttons that link to your account, and those that allow your customers to click the “like” button associated with products and pages so all their social network friends can check them out too.


Visit to learn more about how to best position and manage your brand on social:

Ecommerce Podcast: Social Commerce Innovations and More

August 4, 2011 by John Swords

In the most recent Ecommerce Podcast, host Shaun Ryan (the CEO of SLI Systems) interviewed our CEO, George Eberstadt, about recent innovations in social commerce and broader topics in Social, including the potential of Google+.  (This podcast series includes interviews with leaders in ecommerce to help educate online retailers on best practices and current trends.  Highly recommended!)

In discussing the state of social commerce, George noted that the quality of innovation in social commerce has increased substantially this year when compared to previous years: “After 10 years of very modest innovation in ecommerce, all of a sudden the innovation level is just exploding; new business models, new shopping tools, better shopping experiences… The macro trend is innovation…”

Sean also asked George his thoughts on the potential of Google+.  In considering the circles feature specifically, George noted that in his experience developing social commerce applications, “People do not want to deal with that level of granularity around permissioning. People want to manage their sharing and their social graph at the level of the complete network, not at the sub-network level.”


Announcing two partnerships with leading store builders

June 14, 2011 by George Eberstadt

We’re very excited to announce 2 partnerships today.  Both are ecommerce platform specialists.

YourStoreWizards are stars at building stores on the Yahoo! Small Merchant platform.  We’ve been working with them quietly for a little while, and they’ve already installed TurnTo on 3 Yahoo! Stores:,, and  They’ve completely mastered the Yahoo! platform, which means A. they are super cost-effective and B. they can solve the hard problems.  They’ve even built great solutions for implementing a couple of advanced TurnTo features on Yahoo stores – the XML feed for enabling all the TurnTo UGC to be embedded as vanilla HTML for maximum SEO benefit (4 TLAs in that phrase!) and automated creation of related item clusters to ensure there’s an answerer pool available even for unpopular items.  We’re enjoying being featured on their homepage and having our own product page on their site.

SuiteCommerce is a leading NetSuite eCommerce specialist.  They’ve just finished installing TurnTo on, and it looks great!  They’re fabulous to work with, and, with apparent ease, they figured out some tough challenges in automating the  TurnTo data feeds on the NetSuite platform.  Their expertise also makes SuiteCommerce a cost-effective resource for TurnTo implementation and for any other NetSuite work.  We’re thrilled they’ve chosen to feature us as their Social Commerce solution.

Formal announcements in our Press Room.

Video of Tuesday’s FastPivot-TurnTo webinar: Social Q&A for eCommerce

April 1, 2011 by George Eberstadt

Here’s the full video from our webinar on Tuesday with our partner and leading Yahoo Store design and development shop FastPivot.  It’s about an hour.


A webinar just for Yahoo! Stores: Social Q&A for eCommerce

March 14, 2011 by George Eberstadt

For Yahoo! Stores

Join us and leading Yahoo Store services provider FastPivot for a webinar on:

Social Q&A for eCommerce

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Register here

Question-and-Answer systems are one of the hottest topics on the social web. Now learn how to use Social Q&A on your store to increase conversions, bring past customers back, improve your SEO rankings, and drive fresh traffic from social networks.

The goodwill of your customer base is the #1 asset of your business. Don’t leave it locked away. Adding Social Q&A to your store can release this untapped goodwill to generate more sales by connecting your shoppers directly to your customers.  That’s what makes it “Social” – this isn’t just another customer service tool; this is a level of community engagement you’ve never seen before. Results include: – Shopper questions about popular items typically receive 3-6 answers from customers within 24 hours – 80% of these questions receive their first customer answer within an hour or two – 7% of past customers receiving a shopper question email return to the store to provide an answer – Shoppers who engage with Q&A convert at a massively higher rate – as high as 7X the baseline – Often  produces more user-generated-content (UGC) than customer reviews with attendant SEO benefits During the webinar we’ll walk you through a number of live examples of Social Q&A in action on Yahoo! Stores. Register here


Social Commerce insights from the TurnTo – FastPivot webinar

August 27, 2010 by George Eberstadt

Together with our partner, leading Yahoo Store builder FastPivot, we produced this webinar on Social Commerce strategies on Wednesday.  Here are all the slides plus the complete audio (controls are just under the slides). Thanks to the many attendees! The

FastPivot part runs through slide 35.  They provide a broad overview of social media marketing packed with actionable recommendations.  Starting at slide 36, we do an 18 minute discussion of Onsite Social for e-Commerce.  If I do say so myself: it too is insightful and practical.  Enjoy!

View more webinars from FastPivot.

Welcome Angara

August 5, 2008 by George Eberstadt

Our second partner site is now up and running.  Angara is a great online jeweler with an interesting twist: you can buy loose gemstones and create your own jewelry.  Since their approach is a little different, and since buying jewelry online can be an intimidating experience, getting customers to give them a try can be a hurdle.  So they turned to TurnTo to connect first-time shoppers with friends who have shopped there before.

Nice side note: Angara reported that the TurnTo integration took a total of only 12 hours.

TurnTo is turned on!

August 3, 2008 by George Eberstadt

With thanks to our core engineering team, Eric Pederson, John Rauchenberger, and Jan Vejsada, it gives me great pleasure to announce that TurnTo is live!

It’s also particularly great that our first partner is the Earthwatch Institute, where special thanks are due to Kathy Santos and John Jorgenson for making it happen.

It was about 10 months ago that I had some time on my hands and offered to design social features for the Earthwatch site.  Earthwatch is a fabulous organization that enables regular folks to assist environmental scientists with their field research.  After 37 years, Earthwatch has brought about 90,000 people on many hundreds of different research expeditions.  And I cooked up a variety of site features to connect these people with each other.  What proved harder was figuring out how to activate this group to promote Earthwatch to those who were thinking about an expedition but were not yet part of the community – and do this not on other sites, but on Earthwatch’s own site.

I was struck by how often, when I mentioned Earthwatch to people, they’d say, “I’ve been thinking about going on one of their expeditions for ages.  What’s it like?”  Turns out, lots of my friends – people I’d known for a long time – were interested in Earthwatch and just didn’t know that I was a potential source of information until I brought it up.  That’s when the first light bulb went off: what Earthwatch needed was a way to tell prospective volunteers who among their friends are past volunteers.  Then they’d naturally reach out and ask all those nagging questions. (Was the work hard?  Were the crocodiles dangerous?  Did you get to shower?…)  If we could make that connection happen at just the right moment – when the prospect was considering an expedition – we could have a big, positive impact on conversion rates.

The second light bulb followed soon after: Earthwatch isn’t the only organization that can use this – it’s every organization where word-of-mouth plays a role in sales (i.e. just about every one!).  And, in fact, if it’s structured as a unified network, the more organizations that use it, the more valuable it becomes for each of them.  Therefore it made much more sense to approach this as an ASP offering that Earthwatch and others could all subscribe to than to build a one-off, silo’d application just for Earthwatch.

So, since they provided the initial spark that led to TurnTo, it’s particularly satisfying and appropriate that Earthwatch should be our first live partner.  Thanks to Earthwatch, and Happy Birthday TurnTo!