Spotlight on: Kiip

Antonia Gold in Advertising

in Advertising

kiip-logoMost people enjoy getting something for free, particularly if it is connected to an achievement – any achievement. Wouldn’t you like to be rewarded with real-world giveaways for brushing your teeth or going for a run? Kiip (pronounced “keep”) has cleverly encompassed this ethos by rewarding a consumer with perks provided by advertisers, for example, receiving a sports drink for completing and logging a challenging run. By avoiding the predicament of too many mobile ads (or even worse, repetitive and boring ads that drive users away), Kiip tries to ensure positive associations are made with ad campaigns.

Beyond Banner Ads

Kiip wants to create “mobile advertising people like” and in this pursuit places great, almost ideological, importance on an uninterrupted user-experience. It criticises mobile banner ads for not respecting that users have a purpose when using a mobile app. This purpose should be capitalised on and not disrupted. On a simplified level, if one considers the basic economic principle of supply and demand, banner ads exist because app developer’s demand and thus advertisers supply. Kiip’s rewards seek to create a demand from users for the content advertisers supply. Kiip’s aim is to seamlessly integrate the rewards in the user’s experience and build on the positive attitude the user has for the app content. If done correctly, both the app developer and the advertiser benefit.

This is an innovative response to the issues advertisers are facing at the moment, most notably adblocking, which ADTEKR has commented extensively (most recently here and here). Kiip focuses on why so many users are rejecting the ads in the first place and tries to create content that adds value and users genuinely want to see.

Concept in Action

The rewards offered via Kiip’s in-app tool are provided by an advertiser and every time the user redeems such a reward, the app developer gets paid. Thus, for monetisation purposes, the reward is treated similarly to a traditional online ad. Rewards appear at so-called “Moments”, which seek to capture a point in time when a user is most receptive to the rewards. Kiip describes Moments as an event (an action within any app where the user is present and a branded response is appropriate), plus context, (a circumstantial attribute that corresponds directly with the user).

For example, Kiip worked with Campari America on their responsible drinking campaign, rewarding Moments to encourage positive decision-making as well as brand awareness. This worked as follows:

Event – using a relevant Kiip enabled app (such as Mixologist or onthebar) – PLUS Context – doing this during peak drinking hours and in an area with a high concentration of bars and restaurants – EQUALS Reward – users were offered Lyft credits for their safe ride home.

By rewarding everyday moments, brands are present while users go about their life, ideally in an unobtrusive manner.  Kiip tries to ensure the effectiveness of rewarding moments by retaining the sense of surprise and novelty. Rewards are capped in frequency and thus a user won’t see more than a certain number of offers a day. Further, rewards the user does not redeem are not shown to the user again and again (and again and again) as some ads are. Kiip works on making ads relevant to users by taking a mobile-first approach, recognising that mobile now plays the dominant role in the consumer cosmos and that it is key to client relationship management and brand expansion.

Kiip started off by only rewarding achievements in mobile games, such as reaching a next level or getting a new high score.  In 2012 it expanded its reach to allow rewards in any type of app, for any type of achievement. Particularly at the dawn of the Internet of Things, Kiip has huge potential for expansion. As an example of using connected devices beyond mobiles, Kiip recently assisted with OralB’s campaign around a connected toothbrush. The toothbrush transmits real time brushing habits to a corresponding app and Kiip’s in-app rewards are triggered by various “tooth brushing achievements”, for example, brushing your teeth in three different continents.

What’s its Story?

It may come as a surprise that Founder and CEO of Kiip, Brian Wong is just 25 years old. After skipping several grades, Wong graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia at just 18. He hatched the idea for Kiip after watching gamers become increasingly annoyed at intrusive advertising which added no value. Having exploited a gap in the market, Wong is now considered to be the youngest founder ever to receive venture capital funding. He has since been recognised with many awards including; Forbes’ 30 under 30; Mashable’s Top 5 Entrepreneurs to Watch; and the AdAge Creativity Top 50. He is vocal about his views that advertising does not have to be a necessary evil – it should be a connection that is created between the brand and the consumer.


Today the market seems to believe in Brian Wong and his approach to advertising campaigns. Just last week Kiip announced that its Series C funding round raised $12 million from various organisations, including Verizon Ventures, North Atlantic and True Ventures, bringing it total funding to around $32 million. Clients already utilising this innovative in-app software include P&G, Unilever, MasterCard, L’Oreal and Yo!Sushi. Kiip is headquartered in San Francisco and has opened sales offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London and Las Condas, Chile. Further international expansion is on its radar.

With its fundamental rethink of mobile advertising, Kiip has been able to position itself nicely as the company to watch. It will likely continue to capitalise on the rise IoT and the challenges the advertising market is facing today.

Spotlight on: Kiip was last modified: July 29th, 2016 by Antonia Gold