Stealth Mobile Advertising Startup “Kiip” Aims To Turn Mobile Ads Into Real-Life Rewards

A brand new mobile advertising startup  just launched out of stealth mode late last month has introduced a whole new way to entice mobile gamers to take notice of advertisements.

The startup, dubbed “Kiip” (pronounced “keep”) operates under the mission statement “real rewards for virtual achievements,” and the way the company achieves this is rather brilliant.  Put simply, the company understands the problem with forcing mobile gamers to view advertisements and instead recognizes that people want real-life rewards that recognize their engagement.

So how do they do it?  The company offers users tangible rewards, offers and discounts when they hit in-game milestones or earn difficult achievements.  The premise is that a brand can better reach a user with timely rewards that “come at positive moments and are timed with the natural pauses in game play.”  By doing it this way, brands can build better engagement and loyalty than if they utilized a more traditional, persistent display ad, which are often distracting or intrusive if not ignored altogether.

As an example, if a user passes a particularly hard level or completes a large achievement, Kiip would send a push notification that displays an earned reward.  This reward would be something along the lines of a free coffee at Starbucks with no strings attached, rather than a traditional ad that simply promotes Starbucks in general.  The user simply enters their email address to redeem the reward.  Founder and CEO Brian Wong said the idea for Kiip grew out of frustration with the current state of mobile advertising, which often felt like a miniature version of traditional display advertising and didn’t take into account the unique personal nature of mobile phones.

“People take their phone out over short spurts for 5-10 moments of joy,” Wong said.  “Achievements may not occur, but when they do they’re meaningful and we want to be there at that time and give brands the ability to take that attention and provide value as well. That’s been the missing piece. It’s not just the attention exchange but the value exchange. Marketers wants to get attention but by doing that, you sometimes prompt negative effects. You want to get attention but also give a good first impression.”

Wong said the redemption rates in early usage have been more than 50 percent, meaning users are clicking on the rewards over half the time to redeem them.  While obviously still in its early stages I see a lot of promise with this model.  The company has already signed some pretty big names, such as Sony Dash, Sephora, Dr. Pepper, popchips,, Vitamin Water, 1-800-Flowers, GNC  and Carl’s Jr as customers, who will provide the rewards to users.   Kiip will tailor the rewards to the user so they’re relevant and demographically appropriate.  We’ll be watching this one closely.