I like the term Sock Puppet Marketing, but it reminds me too much of how our political system operates.
Sock Puppet Marketing happens everywhere in life. It is normal and natural for anyone with marketing skills, but I think it does cross the line when it becomes fraudulent. Phony testimonials--they cross the line. Fake reviews that glorify a crappy product or service--guilty. However, IMHO objective reviews and other methods to promote product interest do not cross the line.
If you want to take it to an extreme, just setting up as many links as you can to a site is Sock Puppet Marketing because the links are not obtained naturally.
One of my friends is in the digital scales market. He has a competitor that has several web sites with "independent reviews" of digital scales. Naturally, the scales that his online stores sell (separate from his review sites) are the best, while all of his competitors' scales are crap--even though in many cases they are the same scales with different private label brands. This guy clearly does cross the line, but he remains a major player in the industry due to his use of fraud to promote his products.
I will be passing the Sock Puppet Marketing video to my friend.
"It's inexcusable for scientists to torture animals; let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians." -Henrik Ibsen