Why "Best Hearing Aid" articles aren't always what they seem

Perhaps the most Googled term while looking for hearing aid information is 'what is the best hearing aid?'

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Perhaps the most Googled term while looking for hearing aid information is 'what is the best hearing aid?' It makes sense - there are so many hearing aids available, and you need to find a means to narrow them down. But what if I told you that the vast majority of the best hearing aid rankings you'll see online have little to do with the technology's actual capabilities?

My investigation into these 'best hearing aid' articles: Three discoveries that will shock you

A few years ago, I began to notice an increase in the number of best hearing aid rating websites that ranked certain generic Personal Sound Amplifier Products (PSAPS) as the best hearing aid. Naturally, this surprised me because no reputable source would ever recommend a PSAP as the greatest hearing aid out there. So I took the plunge and decided to look into it to see what I could find about these articles. And what I discovered may surprise you.

Discovery #1: They're often written by unqualified individuals.

The people who created these websites and wrote these articles lack qualifications that would have qualified them to rank different hearing aids. You have no idea what you're talking about unless you've had professional training in hearing aid amplification and have treated people with hearing loss with these devices.

Discovery #2: They erroneously claim that there is a 'best hearing aid' for everyone.

It's hard to award a hearing aid the highest score because no hearing aid is perfect for every individual who suffers from hearing loss. When you first start treating someone with hearing loss, the best hearing aid will vary depending on their hearing requirements and lifestyle needs.

For example, I might believe that one hearing aid has all the attributes that I consider excellent. Nonetheless, that hearing aid may be ineffective for a specific person. As a result, assigning a number one ranking to any one hearing aid is impossible. Not to mention the absurdity of ranking a generic amplifier as the best hearing aid on the market.

Discovery #3: Most of the articles are paid advertisements.

Hearing aid manufacturers pay to be rated highly on these websites or pay affiliate commissions to these websites for directing individuals to buy hearing aids from them. This means that nearly all of the top-rated hearing aids you see on the internet are only there because the hearing aid manufacturer paid for them to be.

To prove my point, I ran a Google search for the best hearing aids and came across an article from the website caring.com. Hear.com, Eargo, and Lively were awarded the greatest hearing aids on this page. However, this website's upper right-hand corner states "Advertising Disclosure." That alone suggests that all of these rankings have been bought.

When you think about it, it's absurd to give these high scores just because they've been paid to be there. Other best hearing aid articles may receive a commission directly from the producers or connect you to a third-party website. Why is this bad? Companies like these, in my opinion, encourage unhealthy incentives in the online hearing aid marketing industry. Individuals like you are taken advantage of so that these companies can profit from whatever is sold in the hearing aid industry.

My commitment to you, the consumer

I started making my best hearing aid ranking videos a few years ago. I only did it for a year, ranking them according to which hearing aid I thought was the best. And then, it occurred to me that just because one hearing aid is better than another, that doesn't mean that this hearing aid is optimal for a particular individual's specific goals and needs. 

Furthermore, once I began accepting sponsorship money, I stopped ranking these hearing aids. Now I'll tell you which hearing aids I think are the most amazing, regardless of whether they're my sponsor or not. And whenever I do a sponsored video, I make it clear two times in the video that I am being paid to promote a particular product or feature from a hearing aid manufacturer. All of that being said, all the 'best hearing aid' videos that I create at the start of each year have never been and will never be sponsored - my rankings will never be influenced by sponsorship money.

This pay-to-play ranking system is not going to stop. It'll only get worse with time, especially if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn't step in and declare it illegal. All I will say is you need to do your research and never believe anything you read on these best hearing aid websites since all they're interested in is making as much money as they can at your expense.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Cliff Olson
Founder & Audiologist
Read full bio

Dr. Cliff Olson is an Audiologist and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. A former Marine Corps Scout Sniper, he left the military to earn his Audiology doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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