BTS: The Secret Sauce That Spurred Some of our Most Popular Formats


In the last year, Playbuzz has transformed from being known as a quiz and list company to a platform that provides publishers and brands with interactive formats enabling them to create content people love. Our focus on interactive storytelling in such a swift-moving environment has assisted publishers in uncovering audience insights and the content their readers truly crave.

But the stories behind how our innovation team cooked up these formats is actually quite simple: we re-evaluated existing storytelling patterns on print and traditional web and brainstormed how to elevate them for current content-consumption habits online. The questions I typically ask in brainstorm sessions to help guide our dynamic format development process include, “How can we surprise and delight readers?”, “What will keep readers engaged over time?” and “How can we dramatize this?” Or, as a reader, “What makes me close a browser or skip an entire paragraph without reading it?”

Here are the stories behind how we created three of our most popular formats:

1. Flip Cards: Rethinking the Overdone ‘Before-and-After’ Format

Ever seen a before-and-after side-by-side photo of celebrities printed in a gossip magazine? Perhaps the photos documented a star before he or she was famous. But the experience of immediately seeing the photos together is quite passive. We wanted to add an element of surprise and delight for readers while keeping this common “then and now” theme in mind.

Enter Flip Cards, a format that encourages users to click on side one of a card to reveal side two, thus building audience anticipation. Here’s an example from our partners at, in which they used a Flip Card to show before and after photos illustrating the damage of Hurricane Sandy. This somber item generated a completion rate of nearly 85%.

Related: Create Your Own Flip Card Now

2. Jumping on the Tinder Bandwagon

It’s no secret that “swiping right” has become a commonly used phrase among millennials. Tinder led us to the realization that content consumption is both a mental and tactile experience.

Our Swiper format transformed the Tinder phenomenon into a voting and ranking experience for users while enabling us to provide publishers and advertisers with a more engaging way to interact with millennials who are accustomed to swiping left and right to express their approval or dislike for something (or someone).

To launch the format, we partnered with MTV during the 2015 VMAs so its audience could vote on that year’s “Homecoming King and Queen” (spoiler: voting has since closed and Selena Gomez and Zayn Malik took home the crowns).

Here’s another item by MTV utilizing the Swiper format that was shared on Facebook by The Backstreet Boys.

Since its introduction, certain Swiper items have had up to a 100% completion rate and almost a 200% voting rate, meaning people re-engaged with the item to vote twice.

Related: See More Swiper Examples From Our Partners

3. Would You Rather … with Polls

Perhaps the more modern version of the age-old spin the bottle game, our “Would you rather?” take on polls was born out of the need to gamify the somewhat stale experience of answering poll questions. With this format, users are asked to answer a series of questions rather than just one, thus increasing their time spent on-site and also enhancing engagement rates.

Distractify published such an item, asking readers hysterical and cringe-worthy questions in their “The 21 Most Uncomfortable ‘Would You Rather’ Questions You’ll Ever Face” poll. The first question alone garnered more than 276,000 votes. The average time spent on this item was 4 minutes, 30 seconds, proving this item to be a huge success.


Playbuzz polls used by publishers generate up to 66,084,743 votes a month.

Related: Create More #PoweredByPlaybuzz Polls Now

These #PoweredByPlaybuzz formats are just a few ways in which we have assisted brands and publishers in expanding their digital footprint by providing innovative ways to increase audience engagement. At Playbuzz, we treat the development of formats like an innovation lab. They can be created based on the simplest ideas and become successful if fostered correctly.

In fact, our emphasis on uncovering engaging content formats is the reason we recently hosted a hackathon out of our Tel Aviv office. Student participants were asked to create new format prototypes. We intend to continue working with the winning team to produce the next big Playbuzz format.

Hackathon pics

We are constantly experimenting and on the lookout for fresh minds and new ideas. For those looking for a career doing just that, check out our Research & Development job openings on our careers page.


About the author

Asael Kahana

Asael Kahana is the Head of Innovation at Playbuzz. He can be contacted at

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