How To Make Sure Automated Entries Don’t Ruin Your Competition

October 21st, 2011

Ever since we started revealing the names of sites/brands who appear on the “entered” lists of automated competition entry service sites a few things have happened. Firstly, promoters have started to add “no automated entries” to their rules and secondly the auto entry sites have started to “hide” their information. Given that they believe what they are doing is fair, whilst extracting money off their subscribers, you’d have thought they’d be a lot more open and transparent.

Anyway, a lot of promoters/brands/agencies/competition organisers still make some elementary mistakes when it comes to putting their competitions online. So, here’s our guide to helping promoters beat the automated entry services!

1. No Automated Entries In The Rules

The absolute basic necessity of any online competition nowadays is “automated entries are not allowed and will be disqualified”, or similar. This line will put off some services, but note that it will be ignored by others. Make it clear on your competition pages too so other entrants know you’re clued up on this issue.

2. Enforce The Rules

There’s no point having the rule if you don’t enforce the rule. So make sure you’re observing your competition entries day to day. Look for unusual activity and unusual email addresses. Read our Automated Entry Blogs to get useful information and what to look out for.

3. Don’t Use Email Entry

Asking people to enter your competition by sending an email to you via a published email address is stupid. Don’t do it!

4. Use A Form, CAPTCHA & Capture ISP

Most online competitions use a form based entry mechanic. CAPTCHA will hinder some auto entry services, but it doesn’t always stop them. Our advice is that using one is better than not having one, but don’t rely on it 100%. We’d also advise capturing ISP data on entry too (techie people can do this, don’t let them say they can’t).

5. Question Your Questions!

If the answer to your competition question is multiple choice answer “B” then this is too easy for automated entry services to deal with. It’s much better to ask a more personable question that should generate different answers. For example a fashion brand may ask “what’s your favourite dress on our site” or a question about a movie release could ask “what’s your favourite Brad Pitt movie and why”?

6. Ask For Confirmation Of Entry

A number of automated entry services “manage” their subscribers email accounts and only look out for winning emails. If you ask your entrants to “confirm” their entries then this is a useful way to weed out anyone who’s not a regular reader of their emails.

7. Be Registered To Enter

One of the best ways to beat the automated entry services is make people login/register to be able to enter your competition. If you can implement this, then it’s strongly advised! We’d still suggest capturing IP addresses and making your questions less structured too.

8. Join The Facebook Crowd

Facebook is a great place to have your competition and beat the auto entry cheats. Users have to login and possibly like you to access your third party competition app.

9. Keep An Eye On The Auto Entry Prize Lists

Despite some sites removing the sitename information, it’s very easy to find out the competitions being targeted. Check to see if your recent prizes are on the list! If you are, go and check your databases and check for unusual activity.

10. Share With Other Promoters

If you’ve received thousands of automated entries and aren’t happy about it then please speak out. Let us know at Loquax, let your fellow siteowners/promoters/brands/agencies know. Some sites have told us they’ve had thousands of auto entries dumped into their competitions – if it’s happening to them, then it’s happening to others.

We’d like to know if you’re disqualifying entries, if you’ve devised methods to prevent these kind of entries or if you’re looking for somewhere to complain but don’t know who to complain to! Do get in touch.

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