One of the things we’ve noticed since blogging about automated competition entry services is that comper’s seem unsure about what they are and perhaps a little oblivious to just how damaging they are to this hobby. Hopefully a few numbers and explanations will help spark a bit more annoyance and interest by compers and promoters about this issue.
What Is An Automated Competition Entry Service?
These are sites that accept payment in return for entering online competitions on behalf of their customers. Using computer scripts they will enter prize draws by populating forms (or sending emails) enmasse. The comper does nothing except pay their subscription.
Are They Legal?
Sadly, yes! But many promoters can put in their rules that “automated competition entries will be disqualified”. Whether the AES sites take any notice we don’t know.
Is Roboform/Autofill Going to Get Me Disqualified?
In our opinion “no”. Think of automated competition entry services like this – if you click a link, visit a website and send in your details personally (whether you use Roboform or not) then that’s fine. If a computer script visits the site on your behalf and does the competition then that’s an automated entry.
How Big An Issue Is It?
In our recent blog – Automated Competition Entry Services – New Help for Promoters – Chocolate Reviews told us that their competition was attracting automated competition entries. At the last count they’d received 4822 entries. 4822 Entries from an Automated Competition Entry Service. Let’s say an average iPod competition usually gets 2000 entries. Now, if that same competition gets 5000 automated entries that’s a 250% increase. Your chance of winning changes from 1/2000 to 1/7000… and the majority of those entrants never ever visited the website or entered the competition themselves! That’s not fair to the promoter or the people who made the effort!
Is This New?
No. Loquax has been commenting on Automated Competition Entry Services since 2008 – we think we’re the only competition site speaking out on this issue, yet it’s an issue that effects every competition portal and comper! In 2009 Marketing Week reported that the Institute of Sales Promotion (now The IPM) were warning promoters about automated entries, but there’s been little from that quarter since and that’s pretty disappointing.
So What Now?
Loquax will continue to write and comment about these services and let siteowners know that they have to be vigilant. We’d like to see marketing magazines such as Marketing Week and Brandrepublic, The IPM and even our competitors taking up the baton too. Compers can get involved too. Genuine compers need to keep entering competitions – if you don’t then you give the prize draws over to the automated services. They also need to let promoters know about this blog and the issues raised. If you’re not sure what to do, then find a “contact page” and just say “I like entering your competitions but are you aware of this …” and give them a link to our blogs.
Will This Stop Automated Entries?
Probably not! These companies will exist and will look for ways round the rules or avoid detection (some claim they can’t be spotted). But, many promoters currently aren’t aware of the problem or the extent of the problem so can’t do anything about it. By giving them the information they can make informed choices about whether they wish to run fair competitions for people who actually visit their site or just give out prizes to people who don’t interact with their brand, visit them or care about their promotions.
Which do you think they’ll prefer?