Insticator Uses Trivia to Make a Serious Case for Ad Revenue

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If a local news publisher wants to engage its users more deeply, it wouldn’t resort to trivia, you might think. But trivia is exactly what Insticator uses to help publishers not only deepen engagement but also produce more ad click-throughs and revenue.

Insticator says its quizzes and polls generate 15 billion ad impressions each month, increase average website revenue by 160% a month and heighten average user engagement by 44%. Plus, through its publisher clients – which range from the tronc newspaper chain headed by the Los Angeles Times to Warner Brothers, Fox Network and – it serves 15,000 websites globally. It also serves the tiniest sites, like a skateboard blogger.

Earlier this month, the company won a Red Herring magazine Top 100 North American award for being an “innovative pioneer” in the Ad Tech/Data contest category. Previous Red Herring winners include Google, Twitter, Skype and Spotify, among other major Internet platforms.

To find out how Insticator works, I went to Kiersten Toye, who is in charge of the marketing team that works with client publishers, with these questions:

Who founded Insticator?
It was founded by our CEO, entrepreneur Zack Dugow, in 2012. We now have more than 40 employees and have clients around the world.

Your tool is a widget. Where is it located and what does it do?
It’s located on the right side of sites, in the navigation. The widget will have a quiz, poll or story to get the user more engaged.

If the user is engaged with a news article, how does Insticator transfer that connection to its widget?
We “game-ify” the questions, we turn it into a contest.

Can Insticator interrupt a news-consuming user with the widget?
No. it’s up to the user to click on the quiz, poll or story in the widget.

What about ads?
Same with ads. There’s an ad on top of the widget and one on the bottom. The user can click on either or both ads. There are no pop-ups.

The publisher is in charge.

Publishers get ad revenue from click-throughs by users. What about Insticator?
We work on revenue share with our publisher clients.

You’re introducing what you call InstiPoll. What’s that?
InstiPoll is our way of helping brands gain better insights to their target audience. Through sponsored polling questions, a brand is able to see the opinions of their audience as well as unlock valuable demographic insights that help with activities such as market research.

With branded content like this, visitors can engage with the widget even more because of their relationship with the brand. This leads to higher engagement and increased revenue for publishers.

Besides quizzes and polls, your widgets include “Stories Feature.” What does it do?
The Stories Feature allows publishers to highlight other content on their site. Publishers can connect different articles and content to their web pages and provide an even more entertaining experience for visitors.

All ads are designed to generate revenue. What makes Insticator’s widget more effective in generating more revenue?
Each time the user clicks on an ad, the link is refreshed to produce a new ad. If the user clicks on the new ad, that’s more revenue for the publisher.

You talk about user “loyalty.” How do you help to produce that?
If a user goes to a website without a widget, she may stay there for only a few seconds, and then bounce away.

With the quizzes and polls and stories on the widget, the user is constantly engaging with the publisher’s website and with the ads, and less inclined to bounce away.

Ad blockers are being used more and more? How are they affecting you?
We continue to serve ads despite ad blockers. We’re increasing our revenue year over year.

Tom GrubisichTom Grubisich (@TomGrubisich) writes “The New News” column for Street Fight. He is editorial director of hyperlocal news network Local America, and is also working on a book about the history, present, and future of Charleston, S.C.