I was really sad, though not terribly surprised, to see the changes to Superpoints that were implemented yesterday, but I have to give props to the owners for clearly informing members of the changes and the underlying rationale.
Change No. 1: Being able to “win when your friends win” was one of the huge draws to bloggers and other big-time referrers to the program, but in order to make the program sustainable, they are now capping this at a limit of 1,000 points per friend. This limit applies to all ways your friends earn points (including not just the Super Lucky Button but also surveys, etc.). Swagbucks also caps your earnings from friends. Prior to yesterday, 1,000 points = $10, which was a very fair incentive for referring active new members to Superpoints.
Change No. 2: They also increased redemption costs — they will now vary based on demand and availability. Where 1,000 Superpoints used to equal a $10 redemption, now a $10 redemption is between 1,290 and 1,336 points. That’s an increase of 29 to 34%. Or, you can spend 1,000 Superpoints and get a $25 Restaurant.com GC, which we all know can be bought for around $2 with one of the frequent coupons they have out, so this is a lousy choice.
My take: Making both of these changes at the same time is a difficult pill to swallow. Members now have no real idea what their recruitment efforts are going to be worth, even assuming that the friends they refer become active at all. However, these changes are totally in line with the maturity phase of the typical life cycle of a rewards program: they’ll start off with huge rewards to grow their membership base then start cutting back when they reach critical mass.
Superpoints has already cut back on the frequency of free point wins on the Super Lucky Button since the site first re-launched, which is also in line with the maturation of the program. Any time a site offers you points that have a monetary value and you aren’t paying anything for them, the company has to earn that money from somewhere, right? They monetize the Super Lucky Button by CPM (a small amount they earn for displaying the banner ads on the button page) and possibly by CPC (earning per click when you actually click through one of the ads) and CPL (earning per lead if you actually buy something from one of those banners). When a site first goes live, they have to offer big rewards to get word of mouth advertising. After a point, though, they can’t afford to lose money and have decrease the availability of “free” points. I still earn from the Super Lucky Button, but it’s more like one win per 20 clicks instead of one per 10 or so.
What a rewards site will do next is try to find other ways to monetize their points so the members can “earn” “free” points while actually earning the company money. You’ll notice their announcement plugged a new offer wall and the addition of printable coupons. (They earn money off both to help finance the points.)
My prediction for the next change: longer waits for redemptions to be sent. This will probably be a good way away, just judging by the speed that Superpoints is advancing through the life cycle. But this is something I will be monitoring and will report back on when I see a change. So far they are VERY consistent with paying members in a timely way: cash out by Sunday, get paid by Tuesday (often on Monday).
I still recommend Superpoints as an easy way to earn free gift cards online, but please just be aware of these changes. If you’re uncomfortable with not knowing what the points you earn are going to be worth when it’s time to cash out, I can strongly suggest Swagbucks and QuickRewards.net, which both feature the same offer walls, surveys, videos, tasks, and rewards for printing coupons that Superpoints does, but they have long-term, stable point values.