Once upon a time, shops would give you a promotional scratchcard, you’d scratch off the silver foil, and know straight away if you’d won a prize. Not any more. Here’s the workflow now, for an “everyone gets a prize” promotion at WE:
- Scratch off foil
- Go to the store’s web site (actually a third party domain running the promotion on their behalf) and enter the code under the foil. Enter my email address. Tick the checkbox to confirm that I’m willing to receive a single email with my prize details. Press the OK button.
- Open the incoming email. Click on the link in the email.
- Visit the store’s prize web site (same third party running things). Enter my name and date of birth. Tick one checkbox that I’m willing to receive further marketing offers from the store. Tick one checkbox that I’m willing to receive further marketing offers from the third party running the promotion. Press the OK button.
- Redirected to another teaser page. Message at the top of the page says something along the lines of, “you’re just a few steps away from fabulous prizes!” But first I have to click a button saying how often I’ve shopped at their store in the last year. Click “3 times”, because I go there regularly.
- I now seem to be in the middle of a survey. Three pictures: which of these styles of children’s clothes appeals to me most? Click on the middle style, which looks pretty cool. Click “continue” button.
- Nothing happens. Click a different picture and click “continue” again.
- Nothing happens. Fire up script debugger. Track down script error, which appears to be caused by the fact that the Facebook “Like” script didn’t load.
- Of course it didn’t fucking load. I block Facebook like a pro.
- Now I’m in a situation where they have acquired all my details and consent to be marketed at, but where I can’t collect on my half of the deal.Or they would have them, if I had actually entered my real name and date of birth. I’m not completely stupid.
Progressive disclosure used as a dark pattern. This is regrettably pretty much standard operating procedure for marketing these days.
Related: “The ethics of modern web ad-blocking” by Marco Arment.