Digital promotions are an excellent way to accomplish many marketing goals. A well-executed sweepstakes or contest can be a huge factor in your social media engagement. The right game and prize can help your business acquire new leads or drive actions. And on social media, your promotion can help you gain awareness, engage your audience, and activate your customers.

Unfortunately, contests, sweepstakes, and other games are subject to cheaters. These entrants are simply prize hunters looking to reap on vulnerable promotions. These fraud entries spoil the fun for participants and pose a threat to your promotion by deterring new entries.

By taking the right precautions to stop fraud, you can protect your customers, business, and campaign.

How do people cheat in online contests and sweepstakes?

A popular method of cheating involves ‘bots’ - a program designed to run simple and repetitive tasks. Many contest and sweepstakes cheaters use bots to generate entries or votes for themselves. Others may simply manually sign-up for contests and sweepstakes with multiple, fake email addresses or social media accounts.

How can I protect my contest or sweepstakes from cheaters?

There are several ways to protect your promotional campaign from cheaters. Depending on the volume of entries, keeping a close eye on your campaign can be a very frustrating, time-consuming task. However, there are solutions available to make this process easier.

A sweepstakes management company can offer assistance with digital promotion needs. For example, Realtime Media offers full-service solutions including game development, legal administration, and prize strategy. We offer both custom and low cost quick-to-market templates. Our API technology has been stress-tested and developed to deter fraud and spam from your promotion.

We’re full-service, so your promotion will have a dedicated project manager that will ensure your business and customers are protected. In addition, we offer winner drawing and verification to select a fair entrant for your prize. Here are several ways you (and our company) can stop cheaters from ruining your contest or sweepstakes:

Choose the right prize for your audience

The prize is the main attraction to your promotion and business. However, choosing a prize based on how attractive it may be to everyone can be a big mistake. For some major companies or brands, offering a massive prize such as a dream vacation or luxury car may work well. But generally, it’s a good practice to stick to a prize relevant to your business.

One of the many services we offer at Realtime Media is prize strategy. We can assist with selecting the right prize(s) and handle fulfillment of all prizes. Our services and technology help get your promotion off the ground, engaging your fans while taking the pressure of the how-to and legal details off your shoulders.

Develop strong contest rules

Your rules should already be the highest priority when developing your campaign. Drafting proper official rules ensures protection of your consumers and compliance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Not only do these rules protect, but they assist in warding off fraudulent entries. Our winner drawing system checks the criteria within your rules to eliminate fraudulent or bot winners from being selected as winners. Typically, your rules can protect your game from cheaters by stating:

  • Eligibility requirements (who may participate).
  • Sweepstakes or contest procedures, such as winner drawing for contests.
  • Start and end dates of the promotion.
  • Reasons for disqualification.
  • How winners will be selected and/or verified.
  • Description of the prize(s).

Check out our legal administration blog post to understand the legal precautions to take when running a promotion. We strongly advise consulting with a professional for legal promotions and avoid sweepstakes or contest rule templates shared online.

Moderate submissions and entries

Perhaps the most time consuming, you can opt to moderate your submissions and entries. For example, a promotion that involves User Generated Content (UGC) such as photos. You can scan the photos for duplicate entries, or check to see if photos being submitted are copyrighted.

UGC is a extremely powerful way to energize your marketing and curate content for your business. However, with the reward comes risk. Generally, you should be monitoring these types of submissions for offensive or vulgar content that may be damaging to your business. Our UGC platform can manage many common complications that come with hosting a UGC contest or sweepstakes. Our AI-powered UGC aggregation platform can automatically sort out undesirable photos that are submitted to your contest via social media or on-site upload.

Use a system to detect and remove fraud entries

As mentioned earlier, there are systems and platforms available to detect and remove cheaters. The least time-consuming way to maintaining a fair promotion is to use a reliable third-party platform or service. We’ve integrated enterprise-grade bot detection into our core platform used to host promotions we build, and have found it extremely successful at eliminating nearly all bots and spam entries.

We offer the Distil Bot Defense Platform. This technology ensures that all traffic coming to your promotion is from fair (and non-scripted!) entrants. Of course, you could always use a CAPTCHA program, however these tend to frustrate the overall user experience. According to a recent study, users that encounter CAPTCHA were 12% less likely to continue accessing content.

Platforms can help you streamline new leads and ensure authentic entrants complete your marketing goals. In addition, we have services to manually select winners for your contest. This includes verification to ensure you and your audience that your promotion is protected and fair.

Select a winner - or have an expert panel handle it

Sweepstakes winners are chosen at random and give you less control over who exactly wins your prize. Unlike sweepstakes, contests are great because they allow you to select a winner (or winners, if you have multiple prizes). This allows you the chance to ensure the winner followed your rules, or is not an entry generated by a bot.

However, it is generally good practice to allow someone else to draw a winner. This helps avoid skepticism or negative feedback from other participants. Any neutral party can help, however there are services available that can select a winner and verify them for you.

Closing Notes

Unqualified leads, cheaters, and fraud activity on your promotion are some of the major headaches that you can encounter. There are several steps you can take to reduce fraudulent entries and protect your business. We recommend investing in a full-service solution. A sweepstakes management company can offer assistance with digital promotion needs.

Realtime Media offers full-service solutions including game development, legal administration, and prize strategy. Contact us today and let us handle the nuances of running a successful promotion that drives marketing results for your business.