Introducing BigDoor’s New Cost Per Quest Ad Format

I love watching our portfolio companies iterate on their products, especially when they are in the early days.  Initial efforts often provide nothing more than learnings, but turning those learnings into an improved product offering is a huge part of what being an early stage company is all about.

BigDoor has been going through that iteration process over this past year and this last week they quietly launched a pilot of a new feature called “Quests” on and a dozen other sites.  BigDoor partnered with the talented folks at SpectrumDNA to bring Quests to life. At first blush Quests may just appear to be the addition of a directed-engagement type game mechanic, but what is going on behind the scenes is really interesting.

The BigDoor team believes strongly that gamification should be a profit-center for web publishers and app developers, not a cost-center.  As a result, they don’t charge for the usage of their API or their widgets.  However, in order to fulfill their vision of providing a free gamification platform as well as sending checks to publishers, they’ve known that they needed a solution that worked not only for publishers and end-users, but also for advertisers as well.

Just in time for ad:tech, BigDoor’s Quests allow advertisers to create a series of tasks that direct users to visit multiple sites/pages and in the process deeply engage those users into their brand.  The user earns rewards (badges, virtual currency and discounts) for completing quests, and the publisher makes money every time a quest is completed.

UGO YourHighness screen v2

Any solution that gives advertisers traffic, publishers money, and users rewards has the promise of being a big win.  It’s too early to tell yet if this first iteration of Quests will accomplish all of that, but the early numbers look promising. Across all of their pilot partners BigDoor is already seeing that 35% of initiated Quests are completed (a Quest requires a user to visit and interact with five different websites), and 40% of users who complete a Quest tweet or share their accomplishment.

Having worked with the BigDoor team since mid-year last year, I know they will listen to their advertisers and publishers, watch the metrics, learn from this pilot, and then iterate and improve before they make Quests available to all publishers and advertisers sometime this summer.  If you want to check out what Quests look like now, visit and “Start Your Quest Now.”  If you are an advertiser or a publisher who is interested in participating in the Quests pilot, feel free to contact the BigDoor team to see if there is a fit.

  • That’s really clever. Love to see this + agreed that’s it’s cool to watch how BigDoor has evolved since my early conversations w/ Keith.

  • Hey Brad – our portfolio company is in the process of implementing BigDoor. BD’s free offer to publishers is very enticing and they are going to help us figure out our ad strategy as well. Go BigDoor!

    • Awesome – psyched to hear it.

  • I’d like to see quests available on any website not just in an advertising scenario, such as my online guitar lessons. So an ability to give points for doing things on a site other than the basic like, share, checkin, etc.

    • We completely agree Will. Quests are proving to be a great way to inject revenue into gamification, but ultimately they are a fun and rewarding way for users to explore and discover new content. We are already seeing examples of publishers using them to drive users deeper into their own sites, which we think is a great use case.

      • Hi Keith. When I say ‘I’d like to see’, I mean I’d like it to be available to anyone via the MiniBar, widgets, etc when you have time 🙂 So the model is more: consume content, do quests, and gain points that are redeemable for products (or people can buy virtual currency to speed up the process), where you get a cut of the transaction, versus the alternate ad revenue model described above.

        • Yep, that makes sense Will and that is definitely part of what we have in mind. Right now we are focused making sure Quests are easy to add (for both publishers and advertisers) and easily extend-able to our current minibar implementations.

          On a related topic, we are also toying with the concept of “QUESTions” that require a user to answer a question or survey about the content they interacted with. I could see that being really interesting with where a user has to absorb the content before they can continue with their quest. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.


          • re: QUESTions Yes I’ve been looking into that – specifically using wordpress quiz plugins and when the quiz is completed, awarding the person XP or some other currency. The quizzes I looked at didn’t store the results for the specific user in the wp database which is something I would like.

            So something I’ve been thinking about for my site but education in general is being able to track the progress of each student – ie tracking what videos were watched, what quests/quizzes were done, so something like a progress bar for each level but a way for them to know what they’ve completed or still have to work on.