Friday, May 27, 2011

Start Up Watch COD: Kiip delivers real world rewards during mobile gaming “achievement moments”

IMHO, mobile advertising has always been a dicey arena. We want to deliver marketing messages in this most lean forward of environments, but at the same time stay on the tolerate/detest divide. Or at least that balancing USED TO BE what drove our thinking.

A really intriguing start-up called Kiip (pronounced keep) completely utterly absolutely upends this very balancing act. Instead, they offer a remarkable and ingenious way to have people actually look forward to marketing messages. To deliver on this promise, they threw off the shackles of “screen real estate” thinking. Meaning that they are not focused on how much of a mobile screen they can fill with an ad. Rather, they pinpoint time-based opportunities when real world rewards can be provided for in-game achievements. Yep, you get actual things for doing well in mobile games.

Let’s compare and contrast two gaming scenarios to show the difference in thinking. And appeal.

Under the standard ad-supported model, ads appear in launch screens, as overlays on the game screen, and as interstitials between levels in a game. Finish level three? Watch an ad and then start playing level four. It’s certainly a serviceable model in that it is exposing a brand message to a captive audience. But in this scenario, the ads really aren’t providing consumer value. Rather they are something to be endured (or despised) because they keep us from what we want to do. Yes yes it’s just for a few seconds. But in our ADD world, they may well be very frustrating seconds for your target.

Enter Kiip. No banners or addy interstitials here. Rather, they offer players tangible, real world rewards for achievements like completing a level. Just finished level three? Yay for you. As your reward, we’re going to give you a mobile coupon for a free Dr. Pepper. Not a blob of electrons that looks like a Dr. Pepper. An actual Dr. Pepper you can go out, obtain, and enjoy.

What I love about this is how it flips the consumer's openness to the marketing message from something endured to something welcomed. Brand message receptivity goes from negative to positive. And how the real world nature of the reward ensures that the consumer exposure herself more than once to the message. See the reward, save the reward, redeem the reward.

Another aspect of this that I find intriguing is the potential to thematically tie offers to games. So, for example, getting free bacon when you exterminate the pigs in Angry Birds. Success never ever tasted so good. But anyway. Rewards are targeted demographically, so that games attracting an adolescent male audience would naturally offer different rewards than games that attract women 35+. The model is priced based upon a cost per reward redeemed basis. Tech Crunch reports a price range from 25 cents to $3 per.

Given the redemption costs and the cost pers, this isn’t a cheap way of reaching consumers. But it certainly is a rich, positive, and multilayered one. Me likey likey. Apparently I am not the only one that’s taken with this great new concept. They have already signed programs with lots of big brands, among them Sephora, Popchips, 800 Flowers, Carls Jr, Homerun, and Dr Pepper. Not bad for a company that a month ago only had a splash screen for its website.

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

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