In-Game Mobile Rewards Get Real Through Kiip

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gamer11.jpgADOTAS – “Virtual goods won’t sustain an audience,” CrowdTwist CEO and cofounder Irving Fain told me when the social loyalty platform builder powered the real-world rewards program for the Bamboozle Fest concert. “Rewards in a loyalty program have to tie back into reality.”

The rise of gamification in brand advertising has exposed the current generation of digital consumers as a bunch of material girls and boys. Who woulda thunk rewards like virtual flame decals for your virtual sports car would only keeps costumers so loyal?

Real-world rewards, on the other hand, can inspire a lot more loyalty. Real loyalty.

“Reach Them When They Win” is the tagline for Kiip (pronounced “keep”), a mobile in-game reward network that launches today after raising $4 million last week in a Series A round of financing. Currently entrenched in 15 mobile games that boast an estimated reach of 12 million gamers, the network targets branded offers to players right at moments of achievement.

For example, if a player beats Level 8 in under two minutes, a notification pops up on the screen saying he/she has earned a free Dr. Pepper. Oh yeah, once he or she gives up her email address — gotta get the loyalty aspect in there somewhere. But you have to admire the cleverness — that soft drink is kind of like a trophy, and the brand will be tied to a certain accomplishment in the user’s mind. (For how long is another story.)

Kiip promises to be mobile offer marketing at scale; it’s especially impressive because launch partners include well-known brands like Sony, Vitamin Water and 1-800-FLOWERS. (What do I have to beat to send my girlfriend a dozen roses for free? We had a bad fight last night and I’m broke.) The network also offers advertisers the ability to match higher value rewards with more difficult achievements. (The promo video suggested a cruise… For some reason I’m skeptical.)

“Game developers have long demanded a monetization solution that goes beyond virtual goods and display advertising, while also leveraging game mechanics without compromising user experience,” said 19-year-old Brian Wong, CEO and cofounder of Kiip. “Kiip undeniably solves that problem by delivering real rewards for in-game achievement while also delivering brand awareness and engagement for advertisers. To us, it’s a value exchange and not just an attention exchange.”

The next step is adding a behavioral targeting element that matches offers and players — once Kiip installs that, watch the brands fight for each impression. I’m sure contextual targeting is pretty easy, so why isn’t Denny’s offering a free plate of bacon and eggs when you get three stars on harder Angry Birds levels?

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