Mike Solomon

This is the story of how some prototype quiz formats turned into a content syndication deal with MSN. By rapid prototyping in HTML, CSS, and Javascript, I was able to help pitch and develop a suite of branded games for both the MSN and Hearst audiences that generated substantial ad revenue.

Expanding the Business

Although Hearst and MSN had an existing content syndication partnership, the types of content being syndicated were traditional articles, listicles, and photo galleries.

With my background in creating fun interactive HTML webtoys, I set off on an effort to explore how cutting-edge web technologies such as HTML5 and Greensock could be used to create a new suite of fun and engaging content types.

One early prototype I developed of an image scramble game. No cars were injured in the creation of this prototype.

Another prototype game where you drag-and-drop to place items in the correct order

A prototype game of visual acuity

After developing and user testing these prototypes, we wrapped them in a co-branded environment on MSN, where we continued developing the branding and game mechanics.

An image scramble gametype

A pixelated image gametype

A rearrange gametype

A "this or that" gametype

Creating such games at scale required a bespoke creation interface, so I led the product design and development there as well.

A bespoke creation interface for the "image scramble" gametype

A bespoke creation interface for the "rearrange" gametype

The primary objective was to make the games as sticky as possible, so we could increase ad impressions. So I designed and user tested many variations of the experience that balanced the needs of users and advertisers.

A mockup showing ad integrations throughout the experience for user testing

Branding explorations

The final branding and advertising integrations

A summary screen designed to provide a satisfying post-game experience, and to allow recirculation to the next game

I helped architect and develop an algorithm that would direct users to the next best game they haven't played yet

The recirculation algorithm in practice

Since its launch, tens of millions of people have played these games and quizzes on MSN and Hearst properties. You can read more about the partnership on Mean Business.

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