ePrize Takes Aim at Promotions Fraud

A new service launched by ePrize aims to eliminate fraudulent entries in online promotions, ensuring marketers can collect clean data and protect consumer privacy.

“The problem is big, and it continues to grow,” said Josh Linkner, ePrize founder and CEO. “It raises concerns about the integrity of the consumer experience and the integrity of the brand, but also the privacy of the customer. We felt the need to step up in a big way.

For the new service, which is included in all ePrize campaigns, the company uses detailed screening tactics to filter out illegitimate entries. Its five-step process starts by blocking IP addresses and blacklisting names and addresses of users associated with previous fraudulent activities. Addresses are checked against the U.S. Postal Service database in real time, and form data is checked across multiple fields for duplications. Entrants must also enter the text of a random image that is difficult for automated tools to decipher and complete an entry.

According to Linkner, as many as 5 percent of all online promotion prizes are awarded to ineligible or otherwise fraudulent entries. That means marketers must spend more resources on identifying, communicating with, and replacing disqualified participants. Typical fraud attempts in online promotions range from something as simple as a single entrant using multiple email addresses to bypass entry limits to more sophisticated use of automated bots to create a flood of ineligible entries.

The goal of these tactics is not always to improve the user’s chances of winning. Often, it’s a malicious desire to hurt the brands involved. “Many of the promotions we run involve high-profile brands. It becomes a challenge for hackers to bring down Dell or Coke, and the promotion becomes a larger target for fraudulent behavior,” Linkner said.

Besides making it harder for legitimate entrants to win and slowing down the promotions system, both mischievous and malicious fraudulent tactics devalue the data collected by marketers, which is often the central reason for the promotion.

“As privacy, security, and data integrity become more significant issues online from a consumer and brand perspective, this is the kind of thing that’s going to move the industry forward. Since the data is being protected, brand advertisers know they will be collecting clean data,” said Robb Lippett, ePrize COO and general counsel.

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