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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Introducing BigDoor’s New Cost Per Quest Ad Format

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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 UGO.com 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 UGO.com 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.

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