In April 2016, the mattress startup Casper sued three popular mattress review sites, claiming they drove business to Casper competitors without proper disclosure that these mattress brands paid sales commissions to the sites. The schemes, in Casper’s view, amounted to false advertising and deceptive practices because the sites promoted their reviews as unbiased but did not conspicuously disclose the relationships with the specific mattress makers they were recommending. In the booming world of online mattress sales, these reviews sites had accumulated massive power — often turning up high in Google search results for general queries like “mattress reviews” or brand-specific ones like “Casper reviews.” And without many showrooms to allow customers to try out these mattresses, online reviews carried even more weight.
As a result of that power, Casper at times engaged with the sites. In 2015, Casper CEO Philip Krim had a months-long email conversation with one of the site’s founders, sounding like he was ready for Casper to play ball. [ Recode ]