How radio station Qmusic reached #1 gaming position on Google Assistant

Developing a successful voice application in 4 weeks.

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Interviewed: Pieter Nys – Client Manager Greenhouse Conversational

Building a voice application in record time; our team successfully built a game around guessing the well known Secret Sound – Het geluid –  of Qmusic in just 4 weeks. A unique collaboration between Greenhouse Conversational and Qmusic, made all the more special by reaching the number one position in Google’s “play game” built-in intent list (the organic top results of Google Assistant games). By doing so, we knocked the Greenhouse-developed award-winning Donald Duck quiz (DPG Media) from its pedestal.

Secret Sound is a popular game on the Dutch radio channel Qmusic. Participants listen to a short audio fragment and attempt to guess what they heard. Each time a listener gives a wrong answer, the prize money increases with €100,-. This steadily increases the jackpot and makes listeners even more eager to win.

Since identifying these sounds can be quite difficult (e.g. try guessing the sound of a tire lever being placed on a bicycle tire), the Greenhouse Conversational team worked together with Qmusic to build a solution that helps participants hone their listening skills. As such, a great Qmusic brand experience was created and a voice app for the Google assistant was born.

The voice action has two game modes – Challenge and Competition – and a mix of multiple choice questions and open questions. The Challenge mode consists of 10 rounds with 3 sound fragments each round, whereas the Competition mode only features one sound per day. The Challenge mode, aka casual mode, can be replayed as much as participants want so they may improve their sound guessing skills. The Competition mode more realistically resembles the radio game in the sense that only one sound can be guessed daily and the weekly top 10 on the leaderboard can win a prize. Where other voice applications use the standard Google voice, this application largely uses pre-recorded sentences by Qmusic DJ Kai Merckx. This gives the player a feeling of actually talking to the radio DJ, which vastly improves the user experience.

“Our award-winning team has once again outdone itself by delivering a rock-solid user experience in record time. In just 4 weeks, the concept was conceived, the design was developed, and the voice action was built. Even though we set very ambitious goals with regard to the volume of weekly participants and returning players, we had already achieved them within week 2 of going live. 

A wonderful achievement by a great team!”

– Pieter Nys, Client Manager Greenhouse Conversational –

* Position in Google assistant game intent list

The secret sauce responsible for the high volumes and impressive amount of returning visitors, lies in its well thought out concept and design. Participants who play several days in a row and/or correctly guess the sound are rewarded with extra points, determined by an in-game multiplier. This encourages the player to return often and keep playing. Even though the multipliers give a significant edge to players who start competing for a top spot in the ranking on Monday, they have been carefully balanced to ensure players who start slightly later in the week still have a chance to end up in that week’s top 10. Throughout the entire promotional period (5 weeks), different cool prizes were up for grabs for players with a keen ear.

During the development phase, when we were defining the success metrics, we set some very ambitious goals regarding the volume of weekly participants (>1000/w) and the amount of recurring users (>10%). After going live, we reached both KPIs almost immediately and then consistently hit them each week. To put that into perspective, on average 3% of users fall under the recurring user bucket in a standard Google Action – i.e. return the following week. In the first 2 weeks alone, we respectively saw 16% and 12% recurring users. Meaning that 16% of the participants who played the game in week 1, also returned in week 2. This percentage is even more incredible when you consider that the Google reporting does not include recurring usage within a week, so when someone plays Monday through Thursday but does not play again the next week, they are not considered a returning user.

The high percentage of recurring users can be explained by the great concept and well-built nature of the game. So how then did we reach such high volumes? The answer is two-fold. Firstly, Qmusic ran an effective multichannel campaign through social media, publications in relevant magazines and on the radio. Secondly, due to its high volume and returning users, the game shot through the ranks of Google’s game intent list and ended up in first place in its second week already – incredibly fast! This practically means that whenever someone asked Google to play a game, they would see the Qmusic game first. After a couple weeks, when the effect of the campaign started to wane, Google’s game intent kept picking up pace to the point that it accounted for 64% of users in one particular week.

As this was a team effort, it is difficult to just credit one person. However, special thanks should go to Luke Janissen and Paul Geraets, both Conversational Designers, who did the heavy lifting in the development process and refined the concept together with Barry de Waal – Copy Director. The copy in the game and the sounds were created in cooperation with Joost van den Brink, Creative Director at Qmusic, while radio DJ Kai Merckx was kind enough to lend his voice for all the recordings. Together with Jorn Agterberg, Marketing Manager at Qmusic, we created a great Qmusic brand experience.

Check the audio fragments to get an impression of the voice application

An example of a sound guessing question, spoken by Kai Merckx and based on the actual game ‘Het Geluid’ from Qmusic.

An example of the audio when answering a wrong answer by the user, spoken by Kai Merckx.


Curious about the game, play ‘Het Geluid’ yourself now!

Note: Make sure your account is set in Dutch or Flemish, the game is only available in Dutch.

Play the game on any smart speaker that supports Google Assistant, such as the Google Nest Home, by following these steps:

1. Make sure the microphone is turned on and your Google Home or Google Nest is connected to the internet.

2. Say “Hey Google, ik wil praten met Het Geluid van Qmusic.”

3. Choose ‘De Competitie’ or ‘De Uitdaging’.

Prefer to play on your tablet or phone? Then follow these steps:

1. Turn on the sound of your tablet or phone and open the Google Assistant app.

2. Say or type “Hey Google, ik wil praten met Het Geluid van Qmusic.”

3. Choose ‘De Competitie’ or ‘De Uitdaging’.

Quote from our client


“At Qmusic, we always try to keep innovating within existing traditions, as is the case with the well-known radio game the Secret Sound (‘Het Geluid’). This year, together with Greenhouse Conversational, we created a new game for the Google Assistant app and smart speakers, so listeners can practice guessing the Secret Sound and keep playing throughout the year. Both on the radio and in this game, it’s exciting to find out what the Secret Sound is we’re looking for each round. The amount of unique and returning players have exceeded all our expectations! It’s also a great compliment to see that ‘Het Geluid’ is so popular that it has been the top listed game for a while when you ask Google to play a game.

– Jorn Agterberg, Marketing Manager Qmusic –