Rewards programs have been through the proverbial wringer in 2006. In fact, the only constant seems to be that everything is changing.
Take MyPoints. It was sold to United Online, owner of the NetZero and Juno ISPs.
Then there are the lawsuits.
Ebates is being sued for unwanted adware downloads. Trespassing, the plaintiff says.
Memolink is being sued is being sued for, among other things, copyright infringement from its "Get Free Levi's 501s" campaign and violating CAN-SPAM.
There have been some closures in the industry as well.
Parade Magazine shut down their ParadePerks rewards program, due to "logistical difficulties."
The off-line Betty Crocker Points program announced it is phasing out its long-time catalog.
And Experian's Metareward portal, their incentive program side of the business, closed down...which in turn shut down rewards programs that licensed the portal, like Netflip.
Rewards program sales, lawsuits, and closures...oh, my.
Meanwhile, the programs still in the game are scuttling to increase, or keep, their piece of the pie.
uPromise announced it will offer points for debit card purchases.
ClubMom, which operates the ClubMom Rewards program, introduced a manner in which members can earn points without spending by posting tips and stories to the site. Adding a strong social element, including Mom Blogs, ClubMom is attempting to build on the social networking craze which apparently extends to mothers as well. ClubMom Rewards also announced extended offerings in their points-for-vehicle-purchase category.
Greenpoints, the online descendent of the S&H Green Stamps program, redesigned their website, added more merchants, and doubled (they say temporarily) their shopping rates.
Instant win games, extra points for your first purchase, double points on certain days, free points for reading their emails...you name it, there has been a promotion for it.
What's yet to come for the remainder of 2006 remains to be seen, but if the first half of the year is any indication, hold on tight -- it's going to be a bumpy ride.