Saturday, March 27, 2010

Do coupons count as prizes?

Do coupons count as prizes?  In a word, "no".

Legally speaking, they certainly don't. follows the same guidelines and for the same reason.

It's not really anything of value unless you buy something from them, which is a pretty big condition.

So when calculating chances of winning prizes, ignores coupons and other things that have no legal ARV (average resale value).

A good example is the Shop, Play & Save Instant Win (click to take a shot at winning their prizes) promotion.  It's a great promotion, with a very respectable 2,057 instant win prizes to be given away.

But ranks it as having only 257 prizes.  Why?  The rest are all coupons with no inherent resale value.  So it won't rank nearly as high as it would have had all 2,057 been pries of actual retail value.

But it's still a good game.  And it's still giving away prizes worth over a half million in resale value so give it a shot and let's see how it ends up in the ratings.

Keep in mind we are talking about "coupons" meaning a partial reduction in price.  Like the kind you get in the Sunday Paper.

"Coupons" that are redeemable for completely free products (often referred to as "vouchers") are in fact acceptable as prizes and do contain value.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some Quick Stats on Sweepstakes and Instant Wins That You Actually Have a Chance to Win a Prize On

Wondering what percentage of major sweepstakes, instant wins and contests out there really provide a decent chance to win a prize?

We just ran some quick summary stats.  Based on the ranking groups:

Green on fire (best chances to win a prize):  less than 3%
Green (good chances to win a prize, worth playing): 6%
Yellow (probably not worth playing): 35%
Red (don't waste your time): 56%

(Numbers don't add up to 100 due to rounding).

Wow.  Goes to show how crucial it is to know the odds.

Also kind of makes you feel bad for the poor folks who are wasting their time on games that that they'll never win a prize from.  Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why does have a "Purchase Component' marking when it's illegal to require purchase?

It's because of something generally referred to as "Alternate Means of Entry" or AMOE.

What this means is, someone can run a sweepstakes or instant win that effectively requires purchase (requiring you to enter a code that is printed inside a label on the product, for example) as long as they also provide an AMOE.

But the kicker is that these AMOEs vary quite a bit.  Some games are nice and allow you to email in for a code, or even just "click here" to get one.

Others require you to fill out an entry and mail it in, often with detailed constraints on how it must be filled in and what must be included, in order to get a code back by mail.

So, although technically you can't be barred from any of these games by not purchasing, you may have to go through some extra hurdles beyond the usual "register and go" sort of entry.

And that's why on we call it "Purchase Component" instead of "Purchase Required".  It's just a helpful marking so you can better assess the games you wish to play.

(If you haven't seen it, it's the little "dollar sign" symbol next to the promotion name.  That along with a "21" (for age requirement over 21), a black and yellow striped sign (for "other restrictions) or a globe (for foreign language or other international elements) help you to quickly gain additional information about the game.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Q&A: Should I decorate my mail in sweepstakes entries to get a better chance of winning a prize?

I've seen advice blogs out that there that advise all these silly methods of getting your mail in entry selected in a sweepstakes--like using a big envelope, stuffing it to make it heavy, decorating it, even putting oragami in it.

Well, I hate to tell you but this is a giant waste of time.  The firms that run these sweepstakes do not look at each envelope individually, nor do they throw them into a vat and physically select winners.

Winners are always selected by computerized random number generators that are matched to the entries by id number.  So the only thing you can do to increase your chances is to follow the rules to the letter so you don't get disqualified.

(Note that we are talking about sweepstakes.  Contest submissions are a totally different story.)

Please visit for the best chance to win prizes on online games.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Q&A: How often do I need to play to win?

Obviously we can't tell you how often you will win, that will vary based on what games are out there, how diligent you are in playing them, and how lucky you are.

But during an average period of time, if you play the top ten to twenty ranked promotions as often as you can (usually every day, but they vary) you should be seeing a prize at least every couple months if not every month.

The key is that you have to keep at it.  Just because can tell you which are the best, doesn't mean the best win every time you play. 

It means if you play every day over a period of time you have a decent chance of winning a prize.

We recommend playing the top ten or twenty every day (or as much as possible) for the first month (right now you get a free month of premium for registering, so take advantage of it).  If you had no luck winning a prize, let us know and we'll extend you a free month to see if your luck gets any better.

We love hearing from you.  Reply to this blog, send us an email at or send us a direct message on Twitter at WinlyPlaySmartr.

Good luck!