Aby Sam Thomas

The fun in watching sports of any kind lies in the predictions one gets to make. Who’s going to score the next goal? Will the next hit be a home run? As their favorite sports stars battle it out on the field, the viewers of the game are engaged in a battle of wits with questions like these. So, when PrePlay came out with a prediction game app about two years ago that allowed fans to become involved with the game they love to watch in real-time, in a more personal and engaging manner—no prizes for guessing why the app became a huge success.

PrePlay allows sports viewers to play their prediction games on either their smartphones or tablets in tandem with the proceedings of the actual sport while it is live on television. On guessing the outcomes correctly, players are rewarded with points, allowing them to engage in a match of their own with other rival players on the PrePlay app. It’s a simple enough game, but it is also extremely addictive—Andrew Daines, founder and CEO of PrePlay, says that the average PrePlay user spends more than 40 minutes per session on the game.

While the amount of time spent on such a game on smart devices is in itself impressive, it’s also interesting to note that PrePlay does not—usually—have prize giveaways for the points that players rack up, which means that people are using PrePlay’s app purely because it is, quite simply, a fun game to play. “We think that rewards are just a silly hook to get people into a game—we couldn’t keep you long-term in a game if you didn’t really enjoy it,” Daines says. “The game, because it’s so good, is rewarding in itself.”

While they have run occasional competition giveaways and sweepstakes on the apps to attract more people to playing the game , Daines says that PrePlay’s emphasis continues to be on building games that are worth playing. This strategy has worked out well for PrePlay—their apps are the official prediction games of Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Advertisers have also taken notice of this app, with companies like Subway, Chrysler and GoDaddy using the PrePlay platform either to complement their ads on the TV screen, or simply act as a sponsor of the app itself.

“We spend a lot of time with our users,” Daines explains. “We engage them in several ways.” This association with users occurs through traditional ways like the branding and advertisements, but also on a more personal level through the app’s chat room. “Our chat room is, next to prediction, the number one thing that people do on our app,” Daines says, adding as an example a recent game night which saw over 30,000 chat messages being posted by PrePlay users. By offering such high levels of interaction, the PrePlay platform becomes an extremely useful location for digital ad placements.

With so many great features, statistics and credentials on their side, it is no surprise that PrePlay has garnered a position as one of the finalists of the Target Social Video & TV Challenge at the upcoming ad:tech conference in New York in November, going against three fellow startups to win the coveted ad:tech Innovation Award. As part of ad:tech’s Startup Spotlight series, this competition hopes to find “the next game-changer in online video,” and by the looks of what PrePlay has accomplished, and hopes to accomplish in the future—it looks like that game-changer is already here.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.