HQ Trivia Is Brilliant—Their Marketing Is No Different

If you haven’t heard of the live trivia phone app ‘HQ’ by now, we may ask you how you like living under that rock. However, if you’re ready to enjoy the post-stone-age lifestyle, we’ll fill you in on what exactly HQ is. Back in August 2017, HQ Trivia was released at no cost to iOS (and later Android) users. The premise is simple; everyday at an established time, players can participate at no cost in daily trivia games where they have the opportunity to win/split a select prize pool of actual money without any fine-print “catches” or exceptions.

The app took off in popularity, initially reaching an audience of hundreds and quickly soaring into the thousands as word-of-mouth marketing took over and friends urged collaboration all in the hopes of banking on the sweet, sweet monetary victory. Initially, the prize pool was set at $500, but due to the volume of players, the prize pool has been raised to $5,000 twice a day, everyday.

Reinventing the Market

It’s no question that HQ was a rapid success, however, what many people did question was how the people operating the app were able to create and maintain a dynamic server, capable of hosting hundreds of thousands (now millions) of people each day AND supplying a payout to players on top of employee expenses.

The answer: angel investors. HQ was created by Rus Yusopov and Colin Kroll, the same people behind the once popular social media outlet Vine. Their previous success helped secure large investments that carried them through for months, but investments can only last so long. So, the question remained; how will HQ inevitably incorporate a profitable marketing strategy that doesn’t turn consumers away from the product?



Let The Consumers Work For Them

Part of the marketing success behind HQ trivia was how they put their faith in their product and patiently trusted the process of word of mouth advertising. They didn’t pour money into TV spots, create an impressively expensive billboard campaign in the middle of Times Square in New York City or run a ton of social ads. Even though when they started, the prize money was small, money gets people’s attention and who wouldn’t want to earn a few extra bucks with no catch just by playing trivia? So all it took was the first batch of winners sharing their “winning moment” videos on Twitter for the HQ word to spread like a wildfire. This meant there was no need for them to spend their investment money on advertising. After all, they had a lot of other things to worry about; like building an infrastructure that was capable of handling hundreds of thousands of people at one time.

Proving Their Worth

Within three months, HQ Trivia had broke 1 million players in a single session. Impressive as it was, brands were still hesitant about using the app to promote themselves. It is uncharted territory, and in regards to brand reputation, uncharted territory can be quite dangerous. What made HQ Trivia especially risky was early dramatic flair from their founders. Early on, they threatened to fire the crowd-favorite host, Scott, for talking to the media about the app post-launch. After what one can assume was a little internal soul-searching, they came out of that scandal relatively unscathed and were back to entertaining millions daily. Celebrities even posted when they were playing the game. (Talk about free publicity!)  This lead to a golden opportunity for HQ Trivia to have celebrity guest hosts, like Jimmy Kimmel, which drew in an even bigger crowd than usual.

Choosing the Right Time for Paid Promotions

Cut to March of 2018, seven months after HQ Trivia’s launch, brands finally seemed to peep out of their rabbit hole to give it a shot. The first brand to give HQ Trivia a shot was none other than the athletic wear titan, Nike. On March 26th, Nike sponsored a surprise HQ Trivia game for a shared $100,000 prize that aligned with their annual Air Max Day. Additionally, Nike gave away 100 pairs of sneakers during the game to commemorate the date when the shoes first debuted on March 26, 1987.

The same month, Warner Bros. made a deal with HQ Trivia valued at $3 million to promote the (then) upcoming “Ready Player One” movie. This offered a prize of $250,000 for players, and notably launched the day before the movie’s premiere.

The founders made it clear that the ads wouldn’t be your every day type advertising. That is a huge part of their marketing success. In 2018, it’s quite easy for us to record our favorite shows and skip through the commercials, but with HQ Trivia, you’re locked into the experience and you need to be paying attention if you want to win. It’s a win for the brand, and it’s a win for the consumers.

Time to Win Some Money!

As marketers (and money-dependent humans) we love everything about this ingenious app. We’d keep going on about it, but an HQ Trivia game is about to start, we’ll see you in-game!


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