Q&As

Can we use an algorithm to select prize promotion winners?

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Produced in partnership with Helen Hart of Institute of Promotional Marketing
Published on LexisPSL on 09/01/2019

The following TMT Q&A Produced in partnership with Helen Hart of Institute of Promotional Marketing provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can we use an algorithm to select prize promotion winners?

When running a prize promotion there are various mechanics that can be used in selecting the winners. Promoters may choose to run a competition with some degree of skill, or a promotion where winners are chosen at random. The latter category can be a simple ‘out of the hat’ prize draw, or algorithms can be used to produce a more complex process for selecting winners.

Algorithms vary in type. They may be used for instant-win type promotions. Instant wins are prize draws in which consumers either get their winnings at once or know immediately whether they have won. As an example, you buy a product which has a code on it. You enter the code on a website and are told immediately that you have won. The algorithm decides whether you have won or not, and in some promotions, what you have won.

A common type of algorithm is known as the ‘winning moments’ algorithm. This might be:

  1. open—meaning that if you enter your code at a certain time (as an example 4.15 pm on 3 January) or are the first person to enter your code after that winning moment and before the next one, you win the prize on offer for that winning moment

  2. closed—meaning that you have to enter your code at the exact winning moment, if nobody enters their code during that moment

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