The Digital Anomaly that is HQ Trivia
It’s 3 o’clock and you know what that means? It’s HQ Trivia time. Before we find a conference room to hide out in to play, let’s get a sense of what exactly we’re getting into. Developed by Vine creators Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll with the charismatic Scott Rogowsky taking the main stage 2/day every day, HQ Trivia has created a unique opportunity unlike anything the world has seen. We’re diving into the “viralization” of the game and how it’s revolutionizing the concept of “branded moments” in the digital space.
On any given game, HQ Trivia has seen anywhere up to 2.2M people watching, playing and competing to win the grand prize. So how does it work? This live trivia game show gives its players the opportunity to win cash prizes for completing a series of 12 or more questions correctly. The questions range from easy to hard and you have 10 seconds to answer (I know what you’re thinking, definitely not enough time to Google the answer!). Anyone who is able to answer all of the questions will split the prize.
What do Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bert from Sesame Street and Jimmy Kimmel have in common?
That’s right, you guessed it – they have all been celebrity hosts on HQ Trivia. HQ Trivia has done an incredible job creating buzz around their free live trivia app and raising awareness with some big name celebrity hosts. In recent months, HQ Trivia has found a number of advertisers to integrate into the show. This new platform is flexible in how brands can advertise as they can use their ad dollars to sponsor a question, donate a prize, promote a movie, or even give away other incredible prizes.
From the get-go, HQ Trivia has attracted a number of big-name sponsors including Warner Brothers and Nike. Warner Brothers became the largest HQ Trivia sponsor by contributing $3 million dollars to the trivia game show. With that, Warren Brothers opted to promote their upcoming moving, “Ready Player One.” With their sponsorship, they provided the largest player prize of $250,000 as well as sponsored questions throughout the trivia game.
Nike, another big-name brand, did something that had never been done before in the entirety of HQ Trivia history. With a surprise sponsorship, Nike dropped the mic with a surprise $100,000 grand player prize AND a chance to win a pair of HQ themed sneakers to promote Air Max Day. These sponsorships alone generated ample earned media for all of the industry-leading publications. Nike and Warner created a precedent for HQ Trivia sponsors.
HQ Trivia just might be the only uninterrupted consumer platform in existence. Due to the fast-paced question answering environment, players are forced to turn their full attention to the game if they want to have any shot at winning the grand prize. This is a strict, no distractions kind of game. AdWeek states “with more retailers experimenting with content as a way to engage with their customers and build brand awareness, apps like HQ Trivia are demonstrating that with the right formula, ‘live’ can work.”
So, what is the right formula for success? According to AdWeek, brands need to create engaging, entertaining content with a destination to capture the consumer’s attention. On top of this, brands must reward consumer participation. Even though the odds of any one person winning big on HQ is next to nothing, consumer’s marvel at the opportunity to win big.
One of PMG’s own, Jordan Schmitt, proved to be one of the few that survived the 12 series questions on HQ Trivia to actually win. Schmitt recounts “there is a sense of pride when winning HQ, and it quickly fades when you realize you won $6.39.” In the end, HQ Trivia took “too much time and the forced participation wasn’t worth it. It boils down to coming out on top.” Maybe the fun is in the chase. That’s how HQ Trivia keeps consumers coming back. HQ Trivia’s formula for success could be tainted when consumers win and realize how much their time, consideration and effort is actually worth.
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In recent years, advertisers are successful when they can cater to the consumers’ needs. However, HQ Trivia is defying the norm and telling people exactly what time every day they need to tune in. It’s a be there or be square kind of method. So what does this mean for digital advertising? Is a cash prize all it takes to tell consumers when to “like, comment, subscribe,” or is this the precipice of an emerging digital trend? With great awareness and growing popularity, HQ Trivia just might be the catalyst for advertisers “regaining control” by dictating the rules to loyal consumers.
7 MINUTES READ | April 18, 2019