Saturday, 16 October 2010

Congreso de Internet Madrid: online prizedraws

The upcoming weekend of 22, 23 and 24 of October there is a Congress on Internet being held in Madrid. The speakers look pretty good, and it's just 75€ for the 3 days, so that's not too expensive. If you want to go: feel free.

I'm not going, I'm afraid. But I do have a particular reason for writing on the congress: every blog-post written about the congress enters in a prize-draw to win an iPhone 4. I'm reading Freakonomics right now, a book in which is argued that people respond to incentives. And thus: the change of winning an iPhone was the incentive for me to start writing. The only thing I have to do is punt a link to the congress's website to enter the prize-draw, so here you go:

My duty is done. I'm on the ticket for the prize draw.

The congress also has another prize-draw in which you can win an iPad, which interests me more actually. To enter in the draw, you just had to upload a static banner on to your blog or site, so that's why on the right hand side of my blog you can also see the banner for the congress: the incentive is winning an iPad, I want an iPad so there you go: banner published.

Why does a congress want people to put banners on their site and place a blog post on their blog?
  1. If people put a banner on their sites for free, you get free advertising and free visits. You would normally have to pay to have banners on websites which drive traffic, but this way it is free. In this case free is not completely free: the cost is that of an iPhone4 and iPad.
  2. If people talk about your congress or event on their blog, you get free publicity. Instead of sending out a press release in the hope that some journalist will pick it up to publish something in a magazine or journal, you have - again - people who talk about you for free. Other people read about this and talk about it to other people. This way you get a viral effect in which 1 blog is read by 10 people who each tell it to 10 other people. At least the congress hopes this viral effect will work thanks to the prize draw.
  3. If various sites and blogs link to your site, you get a good positioning in Organic Search (SEO). This is what is called 'Link Building' and is a very specialized area of working search engines: with different techniques, you try sites to link to your site. Prize draws are one possible technique, though maybe just a temporary one, which is not that good for SEO, actually.
  4. It's a fun idea to organize an original prize draw.
As an on-line marketer I've organized various prize draws. Most were on-line games. In my experience, you reach a very specific and loyal audience (read: the same people over and over), but it's hard to get out of this small circle of participants.
Also in my experience: people will always cheat. The winner is very probably a cheater and it's pretty hard to exclude cheaters.

Cheating goes from using multiple user names until cracking your flash programming so a cheater reaches a stage in your game in a time which is less then the possible time. I've seen it all.

Of course, giving your prize to a honest participant may not be a worry to you: maybe your just interested in link building, and it doesn't really matter in the end how honest the winner may be.

So are there cheaters for the prize draws of the Congress de Internet? It's not that hard to create a blog or a new section of your site in which you talk about the congress, so it's easy enough.
But it's different here: the the congress just want banners on sites and post written about it, so it doesn't matter if the same person puts a banner on 3 different blogs which he manages. That's how it goes for the businesses who organize the prize-draws: you measure the number of participants, the interactions these participants had with your brand. Giving the prize to a possible cheater is just the prize for your efforts.


So will I win? Probably not. But there is a chance.
When I posted the banner on this blog, there were 55 people trying to win the iPad and 33 the iPhone. Since that time, there have been more people joining, but let's say those 55 for the iPad and the 33 for the iPhone where the final entries.

So these are my chances:

Winning an iPad: 1,82%
Winning an iPhone: 3,03%

So I have almost double the chance of winning an iPhone. It's also good to have 2 chances of winning.

Obviously, the more people join the draw, the less probability to win. But your chances just drop exponentially. This means that your chances drop a lot faster when there are just few people are playing and a new one enters the draw. If there are just 3 people playing, you all have a 33% chance. If somebody else joins, you all drop to a 25% chance of winning. This is a drop of 8%. If instead of joining 55 people for the iPad, there are 56 people playing, my chances drop from 1,82% to 1,79%, which is just a drop of 0,03%.

But make no mistake: it's always better to be with fewer people to join.
Here you have a plot of the chances you have when entering a prize draw like the one that I'm playing in.

Though it's a pretty remote chance, if there were 10.000 participants, I'd just had a 0,01% of chance to win.

I'll let you know if I win something.

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