Kiip CEO Brian Wong | The Innovators Interviews
TechFaster: Today we’re sitting down with Brian Wong, the CEO of Kiip. Hi Brian.
Brian Wong: Hey guys how’s it going?
TechFaster: It’s going well. If you don’t mind, Brian, why don’t you just give us a little bit of background about Kiip and what it is that you guys do?
Brian: Sure. So Kiip is a mobile rewards network an in essence what we’ve decided to do is we looked at games and we looked at apps and we noticed that in these mobile setting people were hitting achievement moments, which would be leveling up in a game, getting ah igh score, even finishing a to-do list. So in there moments of time we were like, “Why not bring big brands into reward people and to recognize the fact that you’ve accomplished something and that you’re actually happy.” We realized that this model actually ended up being a very great way to give traditional mobile advertising the middle finger. Because traditional mobile advertising had been a very terrible port of what is essential big billboard upchuck. Our model has grown into something quite different now in that the whole dynamic of rewarding for these moments is now almost moments in everyday life and we’re really excited about where we’re heading with this and how big the ideas have become.
TechFaster: Do you see your success as pretty much a referendum against those display ads you were talking about?
Brian: I think our success is actually rooted in many different areas. Obviously success is very relative and I still think we’re in the first inning of a one hundred inning game, but when you think about it we have been very careful in how we describe Kiip. You’ll never hear me call it an ad network, you’ll never hear me use the word ‘impression’, and you’ll never hear me use the word ‘click’. We’re very different in how we position ourselves. We call it the moment. We’re a rewards network, it’s about the engagement, the happiness that’s behind it. It’s about serendipity. There are very unique ways of describing it. I would say basically that by positioning ourselves as far away, and not even provoking any negative emotions that usually would have been assigned to advertising, we’ve been able to de-commoditize our project. We’ve been able to help people realize that what we’re doing is truly different and I’m many ways transcends the concept of advertising itself. It’s allowed us to unlock more dollars and work with different brands that would normally be against cornering themselves with a solution that would make themselves appear less premium when they’re doing some type of campaign.
TechFaster: You said you came up with the concept while on a flight looking at people gaming. What type of other situations or applications would keep being utilized outside of the gaming world?
Brian: I alluded to some examples like completing a to-do list or logging a run, but we started to focus on food and recipes as well. This is something that maybe your demographic may not spend a lot of time on, but think about the moms in the world who are browsing recipes to cook for their families for dinner or for lunch. The average American mom, I think I heard somewhere, uses like seven recipes and adding more to that is a big deal. So there’s a lot of apps in that space. It really is a line around demographics that are appealing to advertisers as well. So we realized that moms are certainly very lucrative as a demographic for advertisers so finding activities that involves meaningful moments are obviously very important as well, and doing it in a very genuine and organic way. Think fitness, utility, and food. Other areas we were thinking about doing, our possibilities are endless. Some dud just announces a couple of weeks ago that their toothbrush app integrated us. Colgate is one of our clients so it just makes perfect sense that they would integrate us. Really cool stuff like that just continues to evolve. I get surprised everyday just seeing the examples. I’m excited to see how the community begins to apply Kiip in more and more unique ways.
TechFaster: Do you see, somewhere down the line, it being incorporated into console systems like Xbox or PlayStation?
Brian: I think it’ll happen in a way that’s probably different than what people may be thinking in their heads. We were thinking about this theoretically about a year ago. We were like, “What’s going to happen? I kill someone in Call of Duty and it says “you just got a free pizza’?” we were trying to figure out how to do it in a way that doesn’t feel incredibly unnatural. So it maybe you killed someone in Call of Duty on the console, but your phone would then light up and say you got something for free from Dominoes. We were trying to figure out a way that allows the existing user experience to be preserved. That’s always been our priority because it does make sense to get free pizza for playing Call of Duty, but it doesn’t make sense in the way that it would be presented in how we’ve done it traditionally with the mobile game, per say. So there’s interesting executions that we’re thinking about. so yes we are thinking about it. I wish we had every resource in the world to do it, but it’s something that we’ve constantly been mapping out and figuring out what our next steps are.
TechFaster: I have a question for you related to native apps versus the mobile web. Obviously you’re in the native app space with iOS and Android. How does the product translate into the mobile web?
Brian: Ironically the first non-native SDK that we released is Flash. It’s because games are built on Flash or something like that. We’ve been looking at HTML5 very heavily, we have some SDKs that a wrappers essentially for other game builders that may use HTML5 technology. We haven’t really doubled down on it yet, but I do think that there’s a huge opportunity for it. Until developers become savvy enough to leverage the open GL stuff that’s out there to allow 3D to be as powerful on an HTML5 game as it would be on a native game, or just other radical engine related things, I think until that happens we’re probably not going to need to do too much there yet. I think it comes down to what the developers end up deciding to adopt. We usually follow what they end up adopting.
TechFaster: I just had a thought. You know the OUYA game system is built on Android.
Brian: Yes thank you for bringing that up. OUYA is an open source console based on Android and yes, by default we would be compatible with their games. A bunch of developers have asked us about it so it would be very interesting to see the application of Kiip in the setting with OUYA.
TechFaster: Very informative Brian. We appreciate it. What does the near-term future or long-term future hold for Kiip?
Brian: This year’s already started off with a bang. We have a hug piece of news that is going to be revealed next week, Monday to be exact. We won’t announce it, someone else will announce it for us. It’ll be pretty cool. In fact, several weeks ago we announced an investor in a public group being one of the top four media billings agencies in the world is a really big deal for our industry. A normal human being would have no idea what WPP, Omnicom, and IPG is, but in our world it means a lot and it caused a lot of waves in the industry and we’re continuing to leverage that success. The other thing I would look forward to this year is international for sure. We have users in apps and games that have integrated us in every country on the planet in which there is 3G and smartphones. Out compatibility depends on advertisers that are abel to reward locally like a Coke reward in the U.S., but they would have U.S.-specific budgets. They may not reward in Canada Mexico and below. So we want to work with more brands to expand more internationally. It’s already happening. Just look for us in more and more apps. Our goal is to be something that you encounter very regularly rather than something that people still need to figure out. we are in 700 some odd apps now so we have a high likelihood that we’ll be somewhere, but we’re trying to make that spread even larger.
TechFaster: That’s Brian, the CEO of Kiip which is a mobile rewards ads-based application. Thank you very much for your time Brian and stay tuned with TechFaster.
Brian: Thanks guys!