I’m a Black Widow … What Spider Are You?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed a growing Facebook trend—an increase in those annoyingly stupid quizzes. What flower are you? What actress would play you in the movie version of your life? What Rolling Stones song describes you? What else is surprising is that there is a marketing method behind this madness

Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed a growing Facebook trend—an increase in those annoyingly stupid quizzes.

What flower are you? What actress would play you in the movie version of your life? What Rolling Stones song describes you? Are we so bored with our lives that we have to take a quiz to help us with self-actualization?

It always surprises me how many of my seemingly intelligent friends participate in these time-wasters. And I’m not sure I care that if my neighbor were a flower, she’d be a Lily … or if my sister were a dog, she’d be a lab.

What else is surprising is that there is a marketing method behind this madness.

As Americans, we love games, trivia, puzzles, quizzes—anything where we can demonstrate our superiority or prowess. I’ll admit that The New York Times Crossword puzzle is sometimes the sole reason I purchase a newsstand copy of the Times (and if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you already know that I’m obsessed with Words With Friends).

It should come as no surprise that smart brands have figured out how to turn this obsession into a marketing opportunity. Long before Facebook came into our lives, magazines used quizzes to entice readers to purchase—right from the front cover that screamed to us in the grocery check-out lane: “Are you a good kisser? Take this quiz and find out!” Cosmo turned the quizzes into an art form starting in the early 1960’s.

Online quizzes are simply a means to a financial end for popular quiz-maker Buzzfeed. They’ve figured out how to use the data to help brands market things to you.

When you take a quiz about “American Idol,” for example, you’re not just telling the network that you’re a viewer. By connecting the dots to your profile data, now the network knows your age range, gender, marital status and other habits like favorite alcohol, or food—and that can be a goldmine.

But Facebook isn’t the only one to cash in on quizzes to drive advertising sales, LinkedIn is also guilty. Recently we created a digital banner campaign for a B-to-C client that ran on LinkedIn for a few weeks. We tested different messages and offers, and our clicks (and subsequent registration) data was good, but not great. Then we leveraged their quiz option.

On LinkedIn, you create a single question with multiple response options, and the collective response results are posted in real time. After the targets answers the quiz, they are then exposed to the results—and to your banner ads—and the results were impressive. Much higher number of clicks, and a much higher percent of clicks, and a much higher number of registrants—all at a much lower CPC. Now that’s an ROI that makes much more sense to this marketer.

If a reader has figured out how to really leverage the Facebook quizzes for marketing gain, I’d love to hear about it.

And, for the record, if I were a city, I’d be …