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BigDoor Upgrades Gamified Rewards Program

New implementation process, analytics feature lets publishers increase user engagement.

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BigDoor this week announced the next generation of its Gamified Rewards Program, featuring a simplified implementation process called Rapid Integration and an analytics dashboard that help publishers gain better insight in to key performance indicators (KPIs).

The analytics create a "no-exposure" control group, so publishers can see how BigDoor's platform boosts four KPIs: loyalty, engagement, viral distribution of content, and revenue.

The company provides a gamification platform that lets online publishers offer user incentives for engaging more often and more deeply with their websites. Incentives include exclusive content, virtual rewards and items, community status, and offline rewards. Competitors like Badgeville and Bunchball--which boast large customers such as Fox and CA Technologies, and Wendy's and Chiquita, respectively--have previously announced similar analytics features.

However, unlike Badgeville and Bunchball, which cater to both business-to-consumer and enterprise customers, BigDoorfocuses squarely on the consumer side, according to the company's co-founder and CEO, Keith Smith.

[ For more on how small businesses are using gamification to increase profits, see SMBs Use Gamification To Convert Fans Into Cash. ]

Among the 25 companies that participated in a November private beta test of the new platform, there was an average boost of 153% in user loyalty and 672% in engagement, Smith said in an interview. "We measure all steps of the user lifecycle. We track it back to the user's performance. How often are people registering? How often are they coming back? Are they inviting their friends? Are there referrals? What's the revenue on a per-user basis?"

This gamification model of reward is one of the most controversial in the industry, says Gabe Zichermann, chair of the G Summit and author of Gamification by Design (O'Reilly, 2011). "Rewards aren't everything," he explains. "The more frequent discussions are, 'Do people care more about real awards versus virtual?'" Using the BigDoor model, consumers are rewarded for actions such as downloading music, re-tweeting, liking content on Facebook, interacting on a blog or online community, or simply returning to a site.

The overall gamification market is exploding, with direct spending expected to shoot up to $2.8 billion by 2016, up from $100 million in 2011, according to M2 Research. According to one Gartner report, by 2015 more than 50% of organizations will gamify innovation processes, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will install at least one gamified application.

The addition of BigDoor's analytics is significant for the company, says Brian Blau, research director, Consumer Technology and Markets at research firm Gartner, because their customers can now use the analytics to take action on campaigns and programs. "Using analytics as a key business driver is the key here. Understanding a product, technology, or marketing campaign by looking at the details of user metrics such as loyalty, engagement, and revenue can only help improve its performance over time once those metrics are used in decision-making about the future," he explained. "Analytics can provide key insight into product performance. It's not a substitute for making great products, but it certainly can help a company make critical improvements."

Separately, the company announced an additional $5 million round of venture financing, led by its existing investor, Foundry Group. This brings the company's total funding to $13 million since it launched in 2009.

The funding round is less an affirmation of the gamification trend than a needed boost for BigDoor, says Blau. "Gamification and its ability to be used as an engagement driver is relatively new, and companies like BigDoor need resources available to sustain them over the long term as they refine their product strategy, fend off competition, and grow their user base," he explains.

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