Kiip's self-serve rewards platform goes public, now it waits for brands to take the bait

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on November 26, 2013

From The News Desk

When it comes to advertising, brands these days are trying to attack consumers every which way. They come at you in youtube videos, using user-generated content, in your Snapchats, next they’ll probably find ways to incept your dreams. Pretty much, brands have been working tirelessly to find those moments when consumers have their guard down.

Kiip has been a company working to proliferate that advertising ethos for a few years now. In its earliest iteration it started as a company that provided tailored ad campaigns in games. These campaigns were based on individual moments that happened within the game’s schema. That is, if you made a certain decision while playing (for example, you turned a corner or chose an item), you would get an advertisement tailored for that specific choice you made.

Since then, the company has expanded its offerings to moments other than games. This includes tailored advertising campaigns in fashion, music, and cooking apps. Pretty much this means that Kiip has been able to provide rewards-based advertising by consumers' "moments," that is, when they perform a certain action on a mobile device.

Originally, Kiip was the one implementing and executing these campaigns for its clients. A few months ago it launched a private beta for a self-service platform, which allowed a certain group of clients to execute these campaigns on their own. Today the company is opening this service to the public.

According to Kiip's directors of product partnerships Armando Osuna, this move is an attempt to make performance marketing "more of an open process." He sees the new self-service platform as just a removal of the middle man. Of course, Kiip itself is the middle man when you think about it, but I digress.

At its core, it is an attempt on Kiip's part to become more widely used by brands. The startup says 30 advertisers gained access to the self-service platform, and is hoping many more sign up now that it’s public. These brands include Hulu, Lyft, Beachmint, Shutterfly, and, and according to Osuna not one company has decided to leave following its trial with the beta.

Further, advertisers saw in-app engagement rates of 5 to 7 percent, and an average email open rate of 30 percent with the self-service platform. At the same time, Osuna wouldn't give me prior analytics to compare how campaigns performed before the self-serve platform was put into action.

So now all Kiip can do is wait to see if other companies will join the fun. The company has been expanding horizontally to other advertising markets for about a year now, and recently announced a strategic investment from American Express (which may indicate a new emphasis on commerce, as opposed to just mobile rewards). The company wants this expansion to bring in a slew of new clients.

At the same time, there are many other mobile rewards platforms out there, including Pocket Change, RewardsPay, and Beintoo. Although each has its own version of what a personalized reward is, the playing field is pretty cramped when it comes to this kind of market for advertising platforms.

Will this public platform help Kiip succeed? It has already attracted some real brands to its platform and does have more than $11 million in funding, which means it has time to get its product out to brands. But it's going to need to reel in a bunch of companies, and fast.