The IPM And Automated Competition Entry Services

September 29th, 2011

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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