HQ’s Ready Player One and Nike ad deals show just how lucrative mobile audiences can be

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The HQ mobile trivia game got its first pair of high-profile sponsors scheduled to debut this week: a Ready Player One friendly courtesy of Warner Bros. and a surprise raffle along with Nike's celebrated Air Max Day. The marketing agreements mean that HQ, which receives live trivia games twice a day that give away real cash, will be more than capable of covering the cost of the higher prizes than usual, as well as experimenting with its continuous live video format and without precedents.
According to AdAge, who first reported the news of the RPO agreement, HQ will present a $ 250,000 game on Wednesday that will include questions related to the cinematic adaptation of the pop culture love letter centered on Ernest Cline's virtual reality. It is not clear if HQ will also execute trailers for the film, which will be released on March 29. The agreement is supposedly worth $ 3 million. In the case of Nike, MacRumors reports that HQ will host a third surprise game today with a prize pool of $ 100,000 and a draw of 100 sneakers, announced as "an award that money can not buy".

These sponsorship agreements and the accompanying numbers sound pretty standard for the television field, but HQ is a completely different animal. It's a hybrid technology, a game and a live video product, and its sustained success and audience show that Vine co-founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll not only managed a momentary home run just to see their new product fade away. HQ is repeatedly tying in more than 1 million players. Thanks to the ingenious Sunday night special games that reward a single player with the entire prize pool, the HQ games reached a record audience of 2.2 million.
So, what was once a fairly loaded business model, in which HQ channeled millions of venture capital directly into the pockets of its players in the hope that it could build a large enough audience, has legitimately transformed itself into a new viable media platform. It seems likely that HQ has, or will soon, more advertisers queuing to work with the company in the elaboration of custom trivia questions, advertisements and any number of other commercial links. And unlike other video products or games in which advertising feels grafted and exploitative, each HQ viewer begins as an active player. That makes it much easier to ignore obvious advertising when the prize money is still in play.
We do not know where the HQ audience will be exceeded or if the company can continue to raise the bet with higher prize funds and new game design ideas so that more people return daily. And it's clear that HQ is not the viral madness it was at the end of last year when it felt like everyone was playing. But the company has created a considerable and consistent audience, and it makes a lot of sense that advertisers are now more anxious to know if the mobile program broadcast live twice a day is a good investment of advertising dollars.


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