Update 5.10pm: The Department of Education has responded saying it was not aware of BCM posting positive reviews on the site, and said since launch, the app has had more than 100,000 downloads. The media team from the Department said BCM were also engaged with creative advertising services associated with the wider campaign.
Ad agency BCM Partnership has been allegedly posting positive 5-star reviews on an app it had created for Educational Minister Christopher Pyne.
The app called Learning Potential is available in the Google Play and Apple Stores, however, a report from the Sydney Morning Herald said some of the positive reviews posted are from team members at the Brisbane-based agency.
The app was officially launched August 21 by Pyne, and reportedly cost $1.1 million as part of a larger $5 million Parent Engagement education campaign. The app includes tips and tricks for kids of all ages, and encourages the parents to get involved in their offspring’s education.
The SMH article from Adam Gartrell labels the reviews “suspect”, pulling out various names and cross-checking them with LinkedIn.
Indeed, we had a look through some of the reviews and found a few familiar names from the agency.
However, BCM has told B&T the reviews were written in a private capacity, and that it was only from a few staff of the 62-strong agency.
“Of the many reviews on the App Store only a handful are from BCM,” said a BCM spokesperson.
“Further the average rating the app achieved across both the Apple app store and Google Play is virtually identical to the average rating with or without the BCM reviews.
“The BCM staff who have left reviews did so in a private capacity, without any encouragement or knowledge of The Department of Education and Training.”
B&T has contacted the Department of Education, however is yet to hear back.
It’s unclear whether the BCM staffers posting the reviews were doing so because they genuinely found the app useful or whether it was from a professional standpoint.
Google Play’s comment posting policy states: “Don’t post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.”
The help centre for app developers also states: “Ratings and reviews are benchmarks of app quality and users depend on them to be authentic and relevant. As an app developer, you should not attempt to artificially influence your app’s ratings and reviews or those of your competitor, such as by posting fake ratings or reviews or including spam content in app reviews.”