Refinery29 Makes Quiz Play To Drive Engagement

Refinery29 HoneQuizzes perform. They’ve set traffic records at publications like Slate and The New York Times and given rise to platforms like PlayBuzz and sites like Zimbio. That’s why Refinery29 was eager to partner with quiz platform Hone to create quizzes that have the look and feel of Refinery29 articles along with the incredible engagement that comes with quizzes.

“We were excited to move quickly into a space that was exploding for many publishers without having to build the product,” said Patrick Yee, EVP of marketing and strategy.

Since it published its first quiz last December, Refinery29 has published about 10 a month using Hone, giving each quiz a look that matches the site aesthetic. They’re designed to look uncluttered and colorful and to load quickly.

The results of the quizzes exceeded Refinery29’s expectations. Quiz completion rates and retakes are both above 80%, a result that Hone said is consistent across its platform. Over 10% of people who start a quiz share it. “That’s incredible for us,” Yee said. “For articles, it’s a high share rate if 1% of people share.”

Refinery29 looks closely at the metrics Hone provides. “We’re diabolically focused on engagement and loyalty,” Yee said. Editors use quiz results to understand their readers better, and it also influences social media strategy.

Then there’s the advertising. Refinery29 typically sells sponsorships around a quiz, such as when Estée Lauder and Rent the Runway created the quiz “What Fall Trend Should You Try?” The recommended outfits at the end included products from the two brands.

“It told the story through something that was more interactive and gamified, and one of the reasons it was a success was because it felt organic,” Yee said.

Refinery29 also uses the quizzes as tools to support its own products. One of its first and most successful quizzes “What’s Your Style Type?” supported the launch of its first book, “Style Stalking.”

The insights from the quizzes could yield further actionable data.

Hone CEO Andrew Heckler recalls a Game of Thrones quiz done by Entertainment Weekly. Not only was it immensely popular, it asked identity-oriented questions, like political preferences, in order to dub someone a Tyrion Lannister or Daenerys Targaryen. “No one would answer those questions out in the wild, but the answers create audience profiles,” he said.

The first-party data that Hone creates through its quizzes – opposed to the behavioral data that informs most digital IDs– offers unique opportunities for publishers and brands alike. It could create profiles of users based on how they answer and serve ads. That possibility, however, has not yet been applied.

In the meantime, Hone can create more relevant ads through context: matching a product (ski goggles) with how a user identifies himself (winter sports enthusiast) at the end of a quiz.

“I’m not interested in selling anyone’s information to a random third party,” Heckler said. “I am interested in communicating value back to clients and publishers and brands about their audience.”


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