TenHunt: Scavenger Hunt Redux

TenHunt is a timed internet scavenger hunt that sends users through sponsored links and on to other websites looking for topical information. It’s an interesting ad model emerging at a time when everyone is trying to find effective and reputable ways to drive consumer engagement with online brands. Scavenger hunts are as old as time but people are more familiar with navigating the web and more ad money is being spent online than ever before.

TenHunt is a project of serial marketing entrepreneurs Michael Taggart and Walter Burch, whose company Webco.tv has launched lots of affiliate marketing projects. Affiliate marketers often get a bad rap, but I like the way these guys are running TenHunt.

Users register for the scavenger hunt with nothing but a contact email address. At the designated time, all participants are given a series of increasingly difficult questions based on the content of sponsors’ web sites. The first person to complete all 10 questions in the contest wins that week’s grand prize – this week it’s a 30GB video iPod. Taggart and Burch say that their aim is to offer progressively larger and larger prizes and populate the site with photos of happy winners to prove that it’s for real. Prizes are sent by next day air the morning after the contest ends. Most of us are rightly skeptical of things like this, but at launch at least I think this project looks more reputable than scores of marketing efforts littering the web.

Email will only be sent to notify participants of upcoming contests and probably to announce the winners, with short promotional messages from sponsors in the end of the email that the TenHunt creators emphasized would be as unobtrusive as possible.

The combination of time constraints, simultaneous activity with other users participating and a degree of challenge will hopefully create a compelling user experience. If the prizes awarded do get bigger and better and if there are truly no strings attached, I think users could happily participate. I wrote here about the Jellyfish Smack timed reverse auction on Tuesday and that was a lot of fun to watch happen. Xuqa is a successful game based ad model we’ve covered here; Xuqa users play online poker and can take market research surveys to build up points in the game. I think TenHunt could be another example of a quality blend of advertising and game playing.

What makes this most interesting to me is the engagement with brands. Advertising consumption is generally passive, but technology like contextual pay-per-click is changing that. TenHunt is an interesting example of a potentially powerful way for advertisers to drive thoughtful engagement with their online properties. What advertiser doesn’t want that?

This could end up being awful, but I’m going to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. Advertising is changing on every level and I think some affiliate marketers are going to get it right.