Keeping (or is it Kiip’ing?) Your Audience In Play Using Relevant Rewards

Playing cards in NicosiaI’ll bet that you’ve played some sort of game on your phone, tablet device or even a laptop. And I’m betting that you’ve also probably played either Angry Birds or even Farmville. I’ll admit that I’ve placed the former, but what’s annoying is that on the Android marketplace, there Angry Birds version is filled with Google AdWord type advertisements. Frankly, I don’t know how many people would click on those links or whether or not they’re relevant to our needs, but seeing that there’s been success in how Foursquare and Gowalla are handling these secret perks and the gamification of check-ins, shouldn’t there by something similar for the games you’re playing on the go? Surely there are more engaging and colorful ways for consumers to interact with businesses who want to market through popular games like Mafia Wars, Farmville, Cityville and Angry Birds, right? Well the answer is yes, and it’s here to make sure you’re getting the bang for your buck…in a more noticeable and collaborative way.

Kiiping the user experience intact

It’s called Kiip (pronounced kēp) and it’s the brainchild of Brian Wong (@brian_wong), a former Digg employee, and is set to change the way we interact with advertisers on mobile and tablet devices. TechCrunch has called itan entirely new mobile ad model – real-life rewards for in-game achievements” and I think that’s pretty much the right frame of mind for it. For several years now (and probably longer), consumers have been subjected to the awful advertisements of banner and text ads that no longer hold any sway. It’s the status quo and we need something else to stimulate our minds and to get our attention. This status quo cannot be the same standards for all the different mediums and forms of communication the world consumes content. It can’t be…nor should it. That’s why with Kiip, it allows a pretty well-integrated approach to making sure that advertisers have formed a connection with the player/user and offers something of worth, and not have it be a matter of a bidding war to see who’s on top and who’s worrying about being on page 2 or 3.

Mobile gaming has big possibilities IF you can break through

Kiip seems to be only focused more on games now rather than other mobile advertising that you might get through iAd or AdMob, but with the success of social games, I’d imagine that it would be a big boon for any business if they found a winning opportunity to connect with players. And that’s probably where Kiip comes in. In fact, let’s look at some stats on social gaming and why marketers have such an appetite for it:

  • 53% of Facebook users play games (out of 500+ million total users)
  • 19% say that they’re addicted
  • 69% of Facebook gamers are women
  • 20% have paid cash for in-game benefits
  • 56 million people play daily

Source for the above stats: AllFacebook.com.

And those stats are just for social games like Farmville, Frontierville, Cityville, etc. And those are moving ever quickly into the tablet space. But what about the mobile gaming space? Surely there’s got to be a need for marketers to reach out to those folks playing games on their Android, Blackberry and iPhone devices, right? Most definitely and the statistics on that can be quite compelling to lead more people to want to find new ways to advertise to the masses.

According to a recent report from eMarketer, mobile gaming is expected to top $1.5 billion by 2014. In 2010, it was predicted that the industry would receive $850 million, just in mobile gaming. Noah Elkin, senior analyst at eMarketer, says the following:

Certainly one of the main questions the report tackles is fee or free? That is the key question that faces all publishers in every corner of the digital realm today…Consumers prefer free content but they will pay for it on mobile devices provided that what they want isn’t readily available, but how much do you give away for free?

Now Mr. Elkin is probably referring to the question about whether we, as consumers, are interested in continuing on receiving free content or paying for it. We could go the way of the New York Times and read a little bit before having to pay for a subscription OR we could receive the content for free (in this case, play the games) and be subjected to advertisements. It’s something of a hard choice for some people. We love playing the popular games and we’re annoyed when, after a few minutes or we pass a certain level or even in the middle of a game, an annoying pop-up ad appears on the screen interrupting our enjoyment and user experience. That’s just not the way that we want to be entertained.

So how can we get users to engage while not interrupting?

Kiip ad
Have you received a special reward from using services like Gowalla or Foursquare? I know plenty of friends who check-in to places using Gowalla and once in a while they’ll receive a real tangible reward like getting a Gowalla t-shirt or iPod headphones or something more awesome like tickets to a concert (which Foursquare did at this year’s South by Southwest conference). So why can’t marketers do that with mobile gaming?

Well it is now possible to do with Kiip. From all appearances, what players will have to do is simply to play. They will reach a level as they usually would and then they will get an ad while in-play. They won’t have to worry about it looking like a traditional ad that one might think came from Google AdWords or that you would know fits out of place from the game you’re playing. And if you listen to Kiip’s “welcome” video, you’re going to hear that they’re all about maximizing the “achievement” level – this is where you”re most excited and that you know you’ve had some level of success that you’re on this euphoric entertainment high. In fact, it might make you, the player, feel like the game is rewarding you, NOT the advertiser and may emote some feelings of “hey, that’s really cool” and thus, engagement and redemption of the coupons and deals would take place.

Below is a video about how Kiip works:

Some good ideas, but some other questions

For game developers that might be interested in monetizing their product, you’ll be happy to know that Kiip has released an SDK for you to add to your game and leverage their service. Currently, Kiip has apparently partnered with PopChips, Sephora, 1-800 Flowers, Carl’s Jr., Dr. Pepper and more. It will be interesting to see how this new ad model works and whether it has a better ROI than what we’ve encountered with the traditional ads. I’m sure that we’ll see lots more from Kiip, but there are some questions that must be asked:

  • Will there be metrics to measure engagement?
  • How are ads shown on games? Will marketers need to correspond with Kiip or game developers directly?
  • Would it be better for games to have a series of ads targeted to different levels and if so, will they fluctuate?
  • Is there a bidding system to have the ads appear on the games (e.g., does McDonald’s need to bid higher to have their ad appear instead of Carl’s Jr.?) and do they have a time limit on appearing?
  • Will we be seeing an “invasion” of Groupon-style deals into these mobile ads? Hopefully not as that seems to “cheapen” the gaming experience.

Many more questions, but an exciting opportunity to reshape the way marketers reach an entertained audience.

Until then, let’s kiip watching. (see what I did there?)

Photo credit: Mirror | Imaging reality / Flickr