Kiip, a mobile rewards network that ties virtual in-app achievements with real world rewards, announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Interpublic, one of the four major global advertising holding companies, who also took part in the startup’s last funding round. The partnership from Interpublic’s side will be led by one of its subsidiaries, IPG Media Lab, who will work to bridge relationships between top-tier brands and marketers to Kiip’s platform. The company already works with almost 45 global brands in the consumer packaged goods (CPG), food, and retail space including Best Buy, P&G, McDonald’s and Pepsi to name a few. It also has more than 670 iOS and Android apps that are part of its network.
Co-founded by Brain Wong in 2010, the startup has already raised more than $15 million in total funding. In an interview with BetaKit, Wong spoke about how the partnership follows a successful track record the company had built working with several of the ad giant’s mobile and digital agencies. “If you look at the ad industry, all roads inevitably lead to one of these four companies…I knew we were going to need to work closer with at least one of the four,” Wong said. “Interpublic became a very obvious option as we were working with their agencies. This was not out of the blue, this was out a successful track record of working with their agencies and their clients.”
When asked about the factors that have led to the success of its mobile rewards model, Wong replied saying that one of the biggest variables was the serendipitous scenarios it creates for brands to connect with individuals at moments of achievement, when they’re already immersed in the game. The company is also venturing outside of mobile game territory into other categories of apps like fitness, utility, and food apps, and they’re also expanding into different vertical of brand partners, now working with brands in industries like financial services, auto, and entertainment.
For developers who implement Kiip in their app, the company’s approach to monetization saves them from having to put in the much-dreaded banner ads, which Wong said is a huge advantage given that many indie developers dislike sacrificing the user experience for monetization’s sake. “Imagine logging a run, or checking into a gym, or finishing a to-do list, or submitting a recipe, we’re constantly working with developers to figure out which of these moments mean something,” Wong added. “The way that we are able to be integrated with respect to the art form for something the developer has worked so hard to create, I always joke that a banner ad is like slapping something underneath of someone’s Mona Lisa, it just doesn’t make sense.”
The mobile rewards space has continued to pick up steam and gain attention from brands and agencies looking for innovative ways to connect with potential customers. Recently, BetaKit covered Chartboost’s funding announcement to scale its mobile ad network exchange between gamers, and in 2012, BetaKit covered the partnership between SocialVibe and Placecast to leverage geo-tagged information to target pop-up ads for retailers when gamers would be in close vicinity, rewarding them with points for interacting with the ad. Not to mention platforms like LoopJoy that allow developers to build greater brand awareness and merchandise sales through in-game rewards.
With the recent strategic partnership, developers now have even more incentive to work with Kiip, as it continues to use its funding to scale and grow its services globally, believing that in the end only a few app monetization models will win out. It now has the backing, track record, and partnerships to prove that its approach could be one of them.