An automated competition entry service is a site that allows subscribers to pay to be entered into online competitions. Sites like Win24, WeWin4U, Prizewise, Prize500 and PrizeDrawCentre charge a user a few pounds a month and then enter competitions for that person (and many others) using a script or program.
Automated Competition Entry services are of little benefit to a site running competitions. By using these services an entrant is (1) not willing to visit your website (2) not willing learn about your competition or website (3) not willing to interact with your site or sponsors (4) not going to be reading your emails!
We believe all sites running competitions should act to ensure that entries made from third party or automated services are disqualified, so that prizes are awarded to people who have made the effort to enter a competition correctly.
In January 2008 one of our users reported getting over 600 entries to their competition from an automated service. Since then siteowners and brands have reported bulk entries coming from email accounts including wonandron.co.uk, shortsmail.co.uk, freggnet.co.uk, wormail.co.uk, prainnet.org.uk, kreahnet.org.uk, rackernet.org.uk and runracemail.org.uk. These domains are all owned by Travelresearch Ltd aka Win24 - but this is just the tip of the iceberg (Ben Lancaster and Chocolate Reviews).
Nowadays, automated competition entry numbers can be as high as 27,000 - the bulk of which we think can be attributed to Prizewise and Win24! That's a lot of emails effectively spamming your competition. We have been blogging about automated competition entry services and have useful data to share with siteowners/promoters/agencies to help combat this issue. The blog link below gives details of email accounts and IP addresses to watch out for...
Automated Competition Entry IPs & Emails: Updated Help For Promoters
How To Avoid Competition Spam
When running a competition make sure that you do the following to avoid automated entries ruining your prize promotion.
- Don't offer an email route to enter the competition.
- Use a form with a CAPTCHA option to stop robots.
- Make users login to enter your competitions.
- Make it a rule that "automated/bulk entries and entries from third parties will be disqualified"
- Monitor your entry levels - look for signs of unusual activity.
- Disqualify ALL automated entries.
You may also want to read How To Make Sure Automated Entries Don't Ruin Your Competition!
What Should You Do If Your Competition Is Targeted
Receiving these automated entries can be a massive pain for any siteowner or promoter. Our advice is simple - disqualify them all! However, before deleting the entries we'd be grateful if you could share your findings with us so that they can be passed on to others.
There are no official bodies to complain to - however you may wish to complain to The IPM that your site/promotion is being spammed. You could also complain to the ISPs where the email accounts are being hosted. Most service providers have a no spam policy and in essence a site dumping 20,000+ entries into your site is spamming. If enough brands/agencies did this then ISPs may take notice.