The IPM And Automated Competition Entry Services

Posted on: September 29th, 2011 by Jason 2 Comments

Compers may well be familiar with The Institute of Promotional Marketing (The IPM). They’re the people to turn to when a competition or promotion goes wrong. We contacted them recently regarding automated competition entry services. Back in 2009 (then as The ISP) they warned via Marketing Week that “fraudulent multiple entries is threatening online competitions run by brands”. However, since then and despite an increase in entries from automated means, The IPM have been very quiet on the subject.

Edwin Mutton, however has kindly explained The IPM’s position on the matter.

He told us that “The IPM deprecates the use of Automated Competition Entry Services. Engagement of Brand Owners with their consumers is essentially a personal relationship, and needs demographic and other individual information to provide a meaningful database. Bulk entries, however arranged, involve no relationship at all between the entrant and the Brand Owner, and really nullify the whole basis of promotional marketing.

For this reason, the IPM has consistently advised Promoters to insert a clause in their Ts & Cs, that discourages the practice.”

However, Edwin did explain that “there is nothing illegal in the use of such Services, but we advise Promoters that it is not in their best interests to allow such entries. Such advice is also included in our Education programmes as appropriate”.

It’s obviously good news that The IPM think it’s not in promoters best interest to allow automated entries, but what if one of their member’s has interests in such a service?

The IPM is made up of members of the marketing industry, including a couple of competition publishers, one of whom has links to an automated entry service. Now the company that’s an IPM member is not the same as the one doing automated entries – they just have the same director.

On one hand the member site is “upholding the highest standards of professionalism in the promotional marketing industry” (as they should adhere to The IPM’s code of conduct) and on the other the non-member site is doing something that The IPM tell us is not in promoters best interests. And yet a site under the company “membership” umbrella actually writes that the automated entry service their company director is linked to is fine (automatic competition entry justifiable).

We think there’s a bit of an issue there for The IPM! Especially as the “member site” is one of their sponsors! Automated entry services may not be illegal, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a stand against them or a “member site” who promotes them directly or indirectly. Does it?

Of course, there’s more than one automated entry service and a couple we think are a lot bigger than the one alluded to above – yet we couldn;t find any information whatsoever about any of them on The IPM’s website. The IPM say on their website that they aim “to protect, promote and progress effective promotional marketing across all media channels”. We say they’re not doing it!

We’ve had emails this week of sites removing 6500 entries from one competition and a staggering 150,000 across several competitions (awaiting verification). Based on other feedback there is a serious problem here. Competition Grapevine brilliantly explains, from a first hand experience, the problems that they cause for an online business.

The IPM did say that they believe that we should raise this issue with compers (guess they never read the blogs then). Edwin explained that “it is compers whose chances of winning are diluted by the practice, and they are the ones who should be pressing promoters to refuse to accept such bulk entries”.

Sounds like a good idea! Why didn’t we think of that, eh?

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  • missblastoff

    Well done on getting a statement from the IPM!. I have recently corresponded with Edwin Mutton about online competitions and the lack of decent rules governing them, and I really think they need to be getting involved with more promoters and making them aware what a difference it makes to have well thought through terms and conditions. I’m sure we can name 100+ competitions from big brands that have fallen foul of badly written rules recently! Perhaps the IPM need to offer example/recommended T&Cs on their site, including the ‘no automated entries’ rule. And the IPM should definitely be reading our blogs and the comments – this is the modern way to communicate after all! As for Jane’s excellent post at Competition Grapevine, that’s a real eye opener as to how these services can affect promoters – even for a relatively ‘small’ competition!

  • colvilleone

    Those with the most from automated entries are the Promoters. I am only too aware of that because from time to time, I am one. Competitions and promotions exist solely to achieve specific identified commercial aims and for someone from an organization that purports to represent the interests of those involved in promotional marketing to pass the buck to compers is staggering on several counts. Granted competition forums provide an opportunity for co-ordinated action as evidenced by the response to Jason Dale’s call to arms at Loquax (of which Mr Mutton seems blissfully unaware) but the prime potential losers here are going to be companies who find that their promotions are compromised and the quality of the responses they receive degraded. The IPM should be in the vanguard of the action to eradicate actions that threaten their members’ interests not playing footsy with those amongst their membership who by association represent the threat.
    Mr Mutton should also realise that whilst all ‘compers’ are ‘entrants’ not all entrants are ‘compers’ and all entrants are to one degree or another consumers without whom the IPM would ultimately cease to exist. It’s really rather up to them to grasp the mettle and prove that in this day and age they are not past their sell by date.