We interview Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip on his company and his vision of where things are headed with in-game mobile advertising.
Company Overview: Kiip was founded in 2010 by Brian Wong, originally from Vancouver and made the “Top 20 Under 20” list in Canada. Kiip is currently working with a number of partners including PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper, Sephora, Carl’s Jr., and 1-800-Flowers to name a few. The company employs 23 people with headquarters in San Francisco, and additional locations including New York, Chicago and London. In late 2010 the company received angel funding of $300k and then in April, 2011 received $4M in Series A funding.
Wanda’s Take: Kiip has expanded on the notion that when a player “levels up” with a game they can be rewarded by adding real-world rewards and gifts from companies. Aside from directly rewarding players, Kiip also allows users to gift rewards to their friends. The company announced in March that is it working with Pepsi on fitness rewards. More importantly, the company has opened up its platform to enable developers to include rewards directly into their own apps and Wong is hoping to see this take hold in a number of additional vertical markets. The key is that this is a mobile platform and with mobile advertising starting to heat up, Kiip finds itself in a very good position.
Basically, Kiip has created an opportunity for advertisers to support consumers that provides positive rewards and gifting opportunities. Kiip also recently included the Kiip Spotlight https://kiip.me/spotlight where it showcases the games that are connected to reward opportunities.
1. What was the initial impetus for launching the company? What need do you see in the market that wasn’t being met?
The idea started forming, strangely enough, when I was on a plane, and I looked around and realized that many people were playing games on their mobile phones and tablets. And really that was the thing — the number of people who have mobile devices is only exponentially increasing, and an insane majority of them play mobile games. You have this captive, engaged audience and there was no way, as an advertiser or brand, to really reach them without disrupting their game play or distracting them — which we all know can be annoying. So I started thinking about game play and game mechanics, and realized that there were these universal, scalable organic moments of excitement in a game that could be tapped into emotionally without disrupting the user experience. And so the idea for Kiip was born.
2. Can you tell us a little about the company now that it is in its second year? How much have you grown in terms of development, employees, etc.
There have been a number of exciting partnerships that we’ve developed over the past year that are now helping us reach gamers and developers on a much broader scale than when we first began. We partnered with Verizon Wireless to bring Kiip to their developer community, and we’ve also joined forces with Guinness World Records to give gamers the ultimate reward and recognition – an official world record. We also announced an integration with Gamesalad, the world’s most popular mobile casual games builder with over 200,000 game developers on their platform.
Our product has evolved immensely around tactical advertising needs like targeting, frequency, and convenience of campaign deployment. We’ve made a lot of our back-end engineering innovations open source to give back to the community as well – we’ve posted a lot of these on our blog.
We are at 23 people, spread around San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and London.
3. What is the company’s focus going forward?
Right now we’re focused on continuing to bring our model to more people, and on evolving our rewards network into something even more universal and growth-centric — we’re always looking for newer and better ways to help brands build stronger relationships with their consumers.
4. Can you share any metrics on how some of the rewards having been doing?
Right now we’re delivering 1.7M reward moments a day from our brand partners. Our engagement rates range between 20-40% on average.
5. Aside from PepsiCo, some of the Kiip’s ad clients have included Sephora, Dr. Pepper and Carl’s Jr. Do you have any additional clients and partners you can tell us about?
We work with some really great brands, including the ones you mentioned and others such as Kodak, Sony, Best Buy, Quiznos, Guinness World Records, and more.
6. What major trends do you see happening within the smartphone/tablet ecosystem? What larger role do you see Kiip playing within that ecosystem moving forward?
There are several strong trends in general that are pushing mobile to the next level right now:
- - mobile payments/wallets
- - mobile cloud search and file access
- - HTML5 multimedia
- - gaming of course
We see a cross-section of a lot of these trends culminate in ad tech. The stance we’re taking is to help bring a human aspect back to the way we understand advertising on these devices. Unfortunately, with ad tech, and concepts like CPM’s and CPA’s – attention has become incredibly commoditized. It’s unfortunate that all thousand impressions are viewed in the same light and price. When emotional context through moments are added to it – there’s an immense amount of value that becomes uncovered. That’s what we’re harnessing.