ePrize Targets Smaller Web Marketers

Online promotions firm ePrize aims to expand its product lineup with products that should appeal to small- and medium sized Web marketers — who might want to run a contest to collect opt-in email addresses or consumer information, but don’t want to expend the effort or costs associated with running it themselves.

One of those products launched Thursday. Marketers can purchase turnkey sweepstakes SweepsXPress online, set it up, and have running it on their site — in less than a day, the company said. Prizes offered through the service include new cars, vacations, rent for a year, and more.

“It provides a low-cost, very simple, fast way to get a promotion online,” said ePrize chief executive Josh Linkner. “It’s kind of like assembling a greeting card from one of those greetings card sites. You choose the color scheme, and the offer. Our technology … sets it up for you. So you can have a fully licensed, bonded, and legal sweepstakes on your site within 24 hours.”

One of the reasons fees are low for the service — which a spokesman said would cost less than $1,000 — is that it ties into a pooled drawing, in which several sites share the cost of a prize payout.

“Marketers … want to collect opt-in user information … but running a contest can be a big pain in the neck, time-consuming, and expensive,” Linkner added. “Here, it’s pre-designed and legal — no headaches. And pooling allows them to offer a really big prize, without having to pay for the prize themselves.”

Along a similar vein is ePrize’s eLotto product, which the company began offering last week. That offering enables companies to reward users by giving them a chance to win $1 million weekly.

Here’s how it works: marketers purchase eLotto tickets in bulk, and then offer the tickets to their customers, in exchange for opt-in information.

For instance, a marketer could advertise a chance to win in banner ads — in email messages or on the company’s Web site. Clicking on the offers would then take users to a branded eLotto URL, where users would register their opt-in information and select their lotto numbers.

When a customer registers and selects his numbers, ePrize sends a email to confirm his entry. The email also contains an opportunity for the marketer to insert its logo, a marketing message, or a special offer.

After each weekly drawing, each entrant receives an email of that week’s winners, and the marketer can use that email to urge customers to return to the Web site and play eLotto again, or to insert further marketing messages or offers.

“Companies can provide these virtual eLotto tickets at any time during a customer’s Web promotion experience, and offering a chance to win $1 million helps reward specific user behavior,” Linkner said.

What makes eLotto different from ePrize’s prior offerings is that it minimizes the setup time and effort needed to get a program like this going. ePrize manages the entire contest from soup to nuts — including the registration technology, the drawings, and the award payment itself.

Participating marketers, of course, cede direct control over the specifics of their sweepstakes, but according to ePrize, the product’s ease-of-installation overshadows any lack of customization — especially for the smaller marketer with a limited budget.

“The beauty is that participating companies don’t have to administer the eLotto contest,” Linkner said. “This gives us an opportunity to tap into the global small business market, which is a tremendous opportunity,” he added. “We’re leveling the playing field. Just because promotions work for the big guys doesn’t mean it can’t work for small business customers.”

The news is especially interesting in light of other marketing firms’ attempts to target smaller Web marketers with specific products of their own.

Earlier this week, New York-based ad network 24/7 Media rolled out a product similar to ePrize’s pooled sweepstakes offerings.

In addition, marketing technology firm L90 rolled out a pooled search engine product, in which several publishers can work together to join their keyword sales efforts.

For instance, publishers get ad commissions when a user of their search feature enters a keyword that’s been sold to a marketer — even if another publisher in the search network sold the keyword.

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