Why Incentivizing Your Call Ads Is the Worst Idea

By Marty Schneck, May 03, 2016

Marketing is all about convincing people to buy your product or service. You could buy ad space, write blog posts, expand PR efforts -- there are so many ways (both free and paid) for you to drive sales and conversions.

One way you might not have considered: offer a reward. Incentive marketing entails offering the customer a reward for filling out your form, signing up for a free trial, or even purchasing from you.

This is either really genius, or really stupid. When it comes to call advertising, it’s definitely the latter.

What Are Incentivized Ads?

When you’re advertising, there’s no guarantee people will engage with your ads. Sure, you can optimize your ad to drive conversions -- but why do that when you can just bribe somebody to click through?


You’ll often see this in mobile apps and games, or any platform with a digital currency. In the game Kim Kardashian Hollywood, you can earn ‘Kim Coins’ by filling out certain offers. The amount of digital currency you earn is dependent on how much you ask them to do.

Watch a video ad to receive one Kim Coin, submit your email address for eight, or submit your contact information for 10. Earn even more by making a purchase or signing up for a membership.

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These ads aren’t exclusive to mobile, however. There are services like TrialPay that partner with some merchants to allow you to pay for your purchase by interacting with an incentivized ad. 


Here, the incentives are very real. You’re paying TrialPay to place your offer on their site. They then use that ad revenue to give the user a reward of their choice, ranging from free software licenses to gift cards, in exchange for completing your offer.

Why Is This Bad for Calls?

Notice some of the ads in Kim Kardashian Hollywood. For simplicity’s sake, take a look at just the first ad. 


You’re selling auto insurance, or perhaps you’re an auto insurance affiliate, so you place an ad on a mobile app to drive new leads. If the player wants 10 Kim Coins, they’ll fill out the form with their information, which will then be passed on to auto insurance providers.

But do you think they really want auto insurance? Probably not. In fact, one survey found that when offered a reward to download another app, 62% of people either never used that app, or only used it once before deleting it.

Turns out, people will only interact with your ad for the reward.

When you’re looking for calls, you want high quality, high converting leads. When you incentivize your conversions, you’re going to be paying for leads that don’t even want your product. Those calls are going to be a waste of your time and money.

Related Post: The 4 Types of Call Advertising You Need to Know About

Here are some offers from the website Swagbucks. Swagbucks gives you digital currency in exchange for completing a variety of tasks, such as filling out surveys, watching videos, playing games, or completing offers. You can then use this currency to purchase tangible rewards. 


Many of the offers on Swagbucks involve making a purchase or signing up for a trial. But some offers on the site, while they aren’t driving phone calls directly, are collecting information that will inevitably lead to calling that lead.

Take the AARP sweepstakes, for instance. When you complete that offer, you aren’t making a purchase. You’re not signing up for a demo, or a free trial. You’re giving AARP your information, in return for a sweepstakes entry.

This information can be used to later market to you, and possibly even call you. AARP, however, might spend a lot of resources calling low quality leads that just wanted the 40 Swagbucks.

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Not only are they wasting time calling those leads, but they’re wasting money with the ad itself. The AARP is surely paying Swagbucks every time one of their members enters that sweepstakes. And the leads they’re getting in return may not be worthwhile.

Is Incentive Marketing Ever Good?

I’m not saying all incentive marketing is bad. When you’re looking for quality leads, especially for phone calls, offering incentives will get you nowhere. But if you’re incentivizing a sale directly, it might be worth your time.

In fact, incentive marketing is very popular in the retail space. Rewards programs are a common form of incentives, offering you a digital currency (such as “Kohl’s Cash” or “Starbucks Stars”) in return for making a purchase.

There’s even an entire section of Swagbucks dedicated to these retail rewards. 


When you offer incentives in return for a sale, your advertising efforts are paying off immediately. Whereas when you offer a reward for a lead, there’s a high chance that lead will never convert.

Also be cautious with video ads. You saw in Kim Kardashian Hollywood, you could receive one Kim Coin for watching a game trailer. You’re not becoming a lead, and you’re not making a purchase. Anybody could play this video and not even pay attention, just to receive that one Kim Coin. And you’d have to pay for the video view regardless.

When you’re offering a reward in return for a purchase, or even a demo or trial, it may work out for the best. But if you’re looking for quality leads, especially for phone calls, look elsewhere. Far too many people will fill out your form blindly just for the rewards.

Marty Schneck

Marty Schneck

Marty is the former Digital Content Specialist for eZanga and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied marketing. He thinks he’s a reality show superstar. (We think so, too.) Marty describes himself as a “foodie, beer ethusiast, coffee connoisseur, and Kardashian.” Not necessarily in that order. More Articles by Marty Schneck