Was Your Competition Targeted by Automated Entries in March

Posted on: April 4th, 2011 by Jason 22 Comments

It’s almost a month since our Time To Ban Automated Entry Competition Services blog. A new month means a new list of competitions that these services entered for their members, and a new list for Loquax to publish.

The sites listed have been targeted during March by Automated Competition Entry services – this means that they’ve possibly received entries from people who don’t visit the site, don’t know what the prize is and because the email accounts used are monitored by the AES service – don’t even get any marketing messages. Our advice to promoters is disqualify them and we have some email accounts to look out for.

So on with the list: Sense Magazine, Random House, Urban Surfer, Net Voucher Codes, lastminute.com, DK Books, TDF Fashion, Pipe Ten, Pure Movies, Hilton Racing, Female First, Three, Austin Reed, Vogue, Hot Dinners, Paddy Power, Comedy Central, Chocolate Reviews, Choice Store, Divine Chocolate, The Good Web Guide, 7Digital, Cuddle Dry, Play.com, Film4, Lovell Rugby, National Express, Fatface, The Sun, John Lewis, Pots and Pans, Stuff TV, Shoes.co.uk, Blacks, All About Soap. Hamleys, Yahoo, Hervia, The Beauty Pages, Samsung Football, Belling, Itchy City, Clovelly, Provamel. Strada, Indie London, Garmin ….

Automated Entries March 2011

And this represents about 1/3 of sites who received entries from one AES during March 2011!

But hold on a moment – Chocolate Review are listed and yet we know that those entries were disqualified. Let’s hope that one or two more sites have taken similar action.

Moving on to another site and they’ve been just as busy: Channel 4, Woman and Home, Handbag, Company, BBC Good Food, Sheerluxe, Instyle, Morrisons, Ernest Jones, Scifind, Wine Pages, Bells, Something for the Wickend, Indie London, Tic Tac, O2, Royal Mint, Wines of SA, The It Guide, Livingetc, Westfield, The Stage, Splenda, Next, Gonedigging, Fudges, Brastop, Hamleys, Hilton Racing, Halfords, Thomas Cook, Evans, Strada, Mature Times, Mydeco, Mybag, Top Gear, Fragrance Direct..

And many more! Interesting they seem to have been targeting sites mainly with competitions closing at the end of March. Perhaps to try and disguise their volume on what is a busy day of entries?

Automated Entries March 2011

So why publish this?

Firstly, we’re hoping that the promoters mentioned find this blog post and then think about taking action or reviewing their competition mechanics. We know from our logs and feedback that promoters are concerned by bulk competition entries. The information within this blog and in our webmaster’s guide should be enough for them to go back to their databases and see whether they’ve attracted automated entries.

Secondly, we’re hoping that one or two will share information with us. For example IP addresses, the format of emails etc. so that we can pass that on to other promoters.

Thirdly, it’s to keep pushing the message home to people who spend their time entering competitions and making the real effort to visit promoters that your efforts are being undermined. You need to speak up and ask promoters if they realise there’s an issue!

We don’t think we’ll ever see a time when there are no competitions to list on a blog like this – but we can try and encourage more promoters and sites to be vigilant over automated entries and take similar steps to Chocolate Review by just disqualifying them all.

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22 Comments! Join The Conversation!

  1. Littleboot says:

    Maybe genuine compers could ‘tweet’ about it to some of these promoters? Tweets….just like e-mails in the early days…tend to get noticed and responded to more often and more directly than other forms of communication at the moment.

  2. judithsbooks says:

    I wonder if Loquax would be able to consider either not listing these promoters for a few months, or putting a mark of some sort next to the competition listing, so genuine compers can by pass them. If enough of us don’t go to their web sites, they may have a rethink.

  3. jason says:

    If we didn’t list the competitions – another site would – and people would still enter by going to find them elsewhere.

    We could mark them and it’s something we should be able to do fairly easily…

    But… if genuine compers stop entering then that actually solves nothing. A promoter won’t actually notice unless they’re specifically looking for something.

    There’s no easy solution other than raise awareness that this issue exists… but I have a feeling we’ll be fighting against the tide for sometime to come.

  4. judithsbooks says:

    I take your points on board Jason. You are helpful.

    I wonder, competitions that ask a question, then ask you to enter some random numbers/letters, do these stop these companies from entering many email addresses?

  5. jason says:

    Captcha forms do work to a point, but iirc Chocolate Reviews had one and that wasn’t enough to block them.

    The next blog post will be advising promoters what steps they can take to monitor these things though.

  6. libra100 says:

    Thanks very much for this thorough investigation.

    Let’s get the word out there.

    I’ve tweeted, linking to the blog.

  7. ROSIE W says:

    I had no idea that such things existed. Thank you for the information, I will stop wasting my time on these sites.

  8. Ennill1 says:

    So depressing to read how many sites have not taken action to prevent automated entries – after all competitions are to advertise a produce and this is not going to happen with automated entries.

    I suppose that one thing we can do when we enter a comp that also has a comment box that doesn’t require it to be filled to enter is to ask in that comment box wether or not they have a system in place to filter out automated entries?

  9. Ennill1 says:

    There is a button on this site for twitter to make it easy to spread the discussion
    http://www.affiliates4u.com/pool/general-affiliate-marketing/time-to-ban-automated-entry-competition-services/

    I assume they have been reading Loquax blog

  10. Ennill1 says:

    Companies running comps might also be interested in the following,especially the

    “Remember that even competitions for small prizes attract thousands of entries, so a good competition entry service needs to make thousands of entries for you in order to give your entry a reasonable chance of being drawn”

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Automatic-Competition-Entry-Services—What-Are-the-Benefits?&id=2474640

    All those ghosts visiting their sites,wow, that’ll generate interest in their products…NOT!

  11. mackemprincess says:

    I really hope some remedy on how to stop this from happening, happens soon…because it’s really not fair on us genuine compers and as stated in previous post I’m sure the companies won’t be liking the lack of visitors to their sites!

  12. norpet says:

    I find it hard to get my head round the fact that people would stoop to entering comps in this way. I would say “what’s the point?” – but I guess the point is that it’s easier to cheat than to put in a bit of effort to enter a comp – and some of the prizes obviously make it worthwhile!

  13. Arabella99 says:

    Perhaps a round robin to all the PR people at the magazine chains (IPC, Nat Mags etc) alerting them would help. Sounds like there is a gap in the market for someone to set up a company verifying entries to competitions. Maybe also a gap for the major chains to charge 50p or a quid to register in the first place where you have to ring in from a registered land line and speak to the person the other end giving your details and IP address before you are allowed to enter any of their competitions. Entry via email link only might be another good one!

  14. Gloworm20 says:

    I agree with the comments that other members have made how unfair this practice is to genuine compers and hope Loquax will come up with some remedy i.e.I think it would be useful to mark these sites so that compers are aware of these sites otherwise people are just wasting their time by entering! Regards

  15. theone1977 says:

    keep up the good work, genuine people who enter these comps are the people these comps are aimed at. company’s are going out of there way to give genuine people the chance to win these comps and get great advertising for doing so. that’s why it is right to try stamp this out. i back you and the company’s all the way. P.M.

  16. gillianth says:

    Hi Jason

    I only just noticed your reply asking me to give you more details – sorry – too busy to enter many comps myself anymore!!.

    As I said last month, we run a monthly competition on our website http://www.silvercreekvillas.com and we have constant problems with the automated entries. We allow one entry per person but once we get more than about 8 from the same IP address, we start to watch if any more come in that look suspicious. Usually we can tell instantly that its automated because in a normal month we get about 2000 genuine entries – but the automated ones start coming in at 100’s per hour. We delete them all as soon as they come in – we simply tell our PC to delete every email from that particular IP. Its like a constant game of cat and mouse as we keep changing the name of the form so that the automated entry they set up doesn’t work for them. Then it all starts again a few days later. Its been incredibly difficult for us to find out who is running it. I did get the name of the company running it a month or 2 back but I’ve lost it now. The IP addresses keep changing as well but if I get any more details, I’ll let you know.

    Roboform if fine for anyone worrying about that since we can’t detect how forms were filled in. When we say automated, we mean a PC set up to spam our form with 1000’s of emails. I can’t imagine how many the automated systems actually send out because we constantly monitor our emails but it must be huge. The most we have had is 2500 in one day.

    We have the following rule on our website:
    10. Entries submitted by automatic scripts or bulk entry services will be deleted and the e-mail address blocked from entering future draws. All entries have the senders IP address logged.

    I believe every company that runs a competition online should have the same rule set up to be fair to the genuine entrants. It only takes about 10 seconds to ban an IP address so there is no excuse for anyone to allow these entries that are unfair

    Gillian

  17. SBrunette says:

    Is it worth contacting the promoters directly, those that you know are allowing these entries through or do they already know?
    Hopefully one day in near future those that provide this method of paid for cheating will disappear due to too many companies banning automated entries.

  18. jason says:

    By all means contact those listed (or any competition site where there’s email entry or a form – i.e. no registration). Ask them, don’t be afraid too just nudge them and make them aware.

    There’s no need to go into too much detail. Just say you’re concerned that automated services might be targeting competitions and you don’t think it’s fair… send them a link to the blog.

    The good news is that we use our set up to get the word out and that’s helping but the more people asking questions the more sites that become aware of these issues.

  19. sarahlouise210 says:

    I did not know this could happen and dont quite understand the concept ! Are you saying that from one IP address someone is entering lots of email addresses and entering for people on their behalf ?? I spend hours every day entering competitions and have entered some of the sites mentioned …. if thousands of entries are going to be recieved with just the click of a button it does make it seem not worth bothering !

  20. inishowen says:

    I.m so disappointed to see the long list of comps that had automated entries. It makes my time filling in entry details seem totally pointless. I only started entering comps via the internet in May 2010 and I’ve won absolutley nothing in that time. I’m a long standing comper and in the old days I won on a regular basis. If if wasn’t for the friends I;ve made through comping I would give it up completely.

  21. Farahsheikh says:

    @Inishowen. I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t won anything as yet. I’ve been comping for a few weeks now, and finally won a prize (low value, but great for the kids) yesterday. How often have you been entering? How many per day/week?

  22. EasyNowBee says:

    I wish I hadn’t read this, I always knew in the back of my mind that this kind of thing probably happened but as I comp for fun and to find interesting websites along the way I never thought about it too much. After reading this, a bit of the fun will probably be taken out of the experience. Shame.

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