Q&A: Federated Media’s Director of Digital Content Shares Quiz Strategy

by Megan Black Second Street

Megan Black: When you originally started using quizzes, how did your newsroom handle the change?

Sam Tongue: Right now all our Digital Producers are expected to create ten pieces of interactive content per month, including quizzes, polls, or stories with GIFs. We schedule a lot of our content in advance based on planned holidays and events we know are coming up, but we still leave room for creating pieces based on unexpected stories.


MB: What motivates your team to produce great content?
ST: We are always looking for ways to create more engaging content. We want fans, not flybys – It’s important to us that we have an audience that’s actively involved with our material, not people who just stop by occasionally. We find that an engaged audience that’s interacting with our material is dramatically more valuable than one just skimming an article.


MB: How have your teams been responding to quizzes?
ST: First and foremost, our Digital Producers are storytellers. A lot has changed in the media industry in the last twenty years. Yet, People have always wanted quality storytelling. The difference now is that we have so many ways to tell these stories beyond text on a page. Even the art of storytelling has to be adjusted. People want more than just text on a page.

Quizzes lend themselves well to interactive storytelling, and our Digital Producers love them. Instead of writing an article about the policies of political candidates, they’re putting together an informative trivia quiz about specific candidates or a personality quiz pairing users with the candidate right for them based on their answers to questions.


MB: What have been some of your struggles or pain points throughout this process?
ST: Within the last few months, we’ve actually had a dip in engagement because of some external challenges. We recently sold our newspaper, the Elkhart Truth. A lot of our residual traffic had been coming from the paper. Additionally, Facebook changed its algorithms again making it even more difficult for our stories to show up in News Feeds. But, quizzes are becoming a core part of what we do and how we plan on turning a dip in pageviews around.


MB: With so many radio stations in Federated Media, are you working on a group strategy for quizzes?
ST: We have a lot of ambitions for creating content for multiple stations. About 75% of our stations are music, and our goal is to have a team that’s creating content that can be used across all of the stations with a similar format. This would make producing interactive content even easier since the local team only would only need to make minor tweaks.

With the advancements of data targeting, we’re also hoping to really start leveraging our targeted audience, whether that be via email, social media, etc. This way, we can begin delivering specific content to the inboxes of interested users. The more relevant the content, the more users will come back over and over again.

MB: What’s next for Federated Media and quizzes?
ST: Our sales department has been really excited about the success of our quizzes, and now they’re starting to jump in too . Most recently, we created a fun trivia quiz about country star Luke Bryan. The quiz was sent to all of our country stations who could then sell the quiz to sponsors in their community. With survey questions and an email opt-in, this quiz was able to provide the advertiser with tons of value.


While we definitely want to maintain the editorial nature of the majority of our quizzes, we know that quizzes can also work as excellent content marketing for our clients. A quiz can educate users on any topic, and we’re hoping to begin working with advertisers to create quizzes about their brand.


MB: Your team at Federated Media is really doing something special with quizzes, and I’m thrilled that you were able to share your story. I’m hopeful other media companies will find inspiration to help their own quiz programs. So, to wrap up, what have been some of your favorite quizzes you’ve seen come out of teams at Federated Media?
ST: That’s a tough one because there are so many great ones. I really enjoy the original quizzes are team are creating like the one to celebrate Star Wars Day, a quiz all about Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and even one for Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

But, some of our quizzes with the highest engagement are the turnkey ones, and they’re really quick and easy to put together – all we do is add some minor modifications, add a headline, and they’re up and running on our site. The turnkey quiz “What’s Your Grilling IQ?” made a perfect quiz to highlight Memorial Day. We also ran the turnkey “Which U.S. President Are You?” quiz on President’s Day, and it was taken nearly 450 times.


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