Interview with Brian Wong, CEO and co-founder of Kiip (pronounced “keep”), Forbes 30 under 30 for 3 consecutive years, and one of the youngest people to raise venture capital in the world. Kiip is a category-creating mobile rewards network that is transforming mobile advertising through an innovative platform that leverages “moments of achievement” in games and apps to simultaneously benefit users, developers and advertisers. Backed by IPG, Hummer Winblad, Relay Ventures, True Ventures, Digital Garage and others, the company has raised $15.4 million in funding to date. We have Brian with us today to talk about how Kiip is redefining the new generation of interaction in mobile marketing.
How does Kiip work?
Kiip is a rewards network that celebrates moments of achievement. It offers consumers tangible rewards when they win at battle in a game, check off a to-do, or log a run, with say, a free download of TV show, or a bottle of Gatorade. Kiip allows brands to serendipitously be a part of emotionally charged moments (whether celebrating victory or defeat) for the consumer throughout the day, targeting moments, instead of impressions.
How did you make it work as a concept?
The original idea came to me when I was sitting on a plane and I noticed people were playing games on their phones. Every time they achieved a high score, that’s a happy, dopamine filled moment. That’s when I had an epiphany: How can brands be a part of that experience instead of slapping the user in the face with banner ads?
Traditionally, marketing to consumers has been focused on: “who are you”, “what are you doing”, but little attention was given to targeting specific moments of joy or achievement. The “What are you feeling?” in the equation. Every second of every day, that’s what Kiip does, we’re recognising emotions.
The mobile phone is one of the most intimate devices we’ve ever owned. So it’s a tremendous opportunity to engage with users. Brands often think, mobile is a smaller screen, so I’ll make a smalle ad. But people are on an app for a reason. They’re not there to see an ad. If brands could acknowledge that consumer’s feeling of achievement, after say they’ve logged a run, here’s a free bottle of Gatorade, then brands are adding value to consumers’ lives throughout the day.
Kiip focuses on delivering surprises, creating engagement through emotionally charged moments. What are some of your favourite examples?
Among the app genres, we cover fitness, food, music, productivity, and sports. When you cross off a to-do list item, Warner Brothers will reward you with a free download of a TV show.
Another one of my favourite examples is Mondelez International (formerly Kraft), who wanted to own all the “sour” moments in our networks by offering Sour Patch Kids rewards. The campaign turned all “sour” moments “sweet” by doing things like rewarding users even if they died in a game. People loved it, and so did the industry – it was named one of Mobile Marketer’s top 10 CPG mobile campaigns of the year.
Can you tell us more about measuring happiness through data?
We’re integrated into 2000 apps. Every time people hit a high score, log a run, check off a to-do, we see that as a data point. That’s 150 times a second of happiness. There are 2 billion moments we’ve been able to observe and we’ve hired developers to help us to identify and understand the context around those moments of joy or achievement. It allows us to better target our rewards.
Tell us about your UK expansion.
We have a team in London and they’ve done very well, with McCain. Ebay, and yousushi onboard already. Our team is focused on finding brands that align with our model. People who share our understanding, that it’s not just about buying TV and Billboard ads, it’s about engaging with consumers during emotionally charged moments. UK is a very mobile friendly country. There’s a Carphone Warehouse on every block. And there’re a lot of people. So we’re very excited to be here.
What kind of apps and rewards are you hoping to source and develop in the UK?
Some of the new app genres we’re thinking about entering are travel, personal finance, and education.
What are your thoughts on how reward marketing can carve out a place in B2B marketing? For businesses to gain and retain clients?
B2Bs or B2Cs, at the end of the day, you’re marketing to people. People like to like. It’s about taking existing patterns of behaviour, acknowledging that behaviour, and letting them do what they do already.
Appreciate your customers’ advocacy and engagement. Do it properly. A lot of brands think rewarding is bribing. It’s not. The more you dangle incentives the more you end up attracting the wrong people. Keep it relevant and make it a surprise.
We did a blog recently on Kiip’s B2B Secret: Acquire your whale clients with infographics, which details some innovative ways to engage with target clients.
Interview with Brian Wong is one of many inspirational features of the JPC “Thought Leadership Interview” series, where we reach into our extensive network of thinkers, doers, future gazers, business leaders, book authors, innovators and experts who are first in their fields to share their insights, wisdom, and game-changing perspectives on the world we live in today.