The Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) have finally started warning promoters about cheating in online competitions. They have issued advice to companies that run competitions to tighten up their terms and conditions regarding entry restrictions due to increases in multiple entries. They say that multiple entries vary from the use of numerous email accounts right through to automated scripts and that promoters need to take action to stop the cheats. Hooray!
The story also appears in Marketing Week who kindly recognise that Loquax brought up the subject of automated entry issues back in January 2008. In fact we have also brought the subject up on our affiliate blog (One Little Duck) and have been advising about automated entries and how to stop cheating in our promoter guide since mid-2007!
Since that time there have been some changes in the way some sites run their competitions. Captcha forms, designed to stop automated entry, have become more prevalent, whilst in some cases users now have to register before they can enter competition. Sites have also cottoned on to the fact that there are problems and for example Good to Know now state in their terms and conditions
All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void. No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost in transit.
Stopping the cheats is actually pretty simple. In the simplest case we advise using forms for online entries, rather than an email address. We also suggest collecting IP addresses, randomising questions and regular monitoring of entries. In a competition we ran earlier this year we were able to spot automated entries simply because they all gave the same, very well structured, answer!
Whilst we welcome the fact that The ISP are now advising promoters on multiple entry, cheating and hopefully even automated entry services, there’s just a slight thought of “why did it take you so long to get involved?” at the back of our minds.