In-game advertising could start moving in a new direction, if start-up company Kiip has its way. The company has announced that it received $4 million in funding to achieve its dream of giving players “branded coupons and product samples” for completing in-game tasks. Think of it as a sort of Achievement, with real-world ramifications.
While the company (pronounced Keep) hasn’t publicly revealed which games it will work with, early adopter advertisers include fast food giant Carl’s Jr. and soft drink company Dr. Pepper, as well as GND, Homerun.com, popchips, vitaminwater and cosmetics store Sephora. Don’t want the reward yourself? Gift it to a friend or family member!
The system is expected to be implemented over 15 mobile titles to begin with. When a gamer earns a particular achievement in a Kiip-powered game, they will be asked for their email address in order to receive a free sample offer or coupon. The company is quick to assert that there is no account sign-up required, and each achievement is a stand-alone thing.
This might sound like something that can be easily farmed or exploited, but Kiip have put some thought into the system’s back-end. Developers are given a limited number of awards per title, and a random, variable reward schedule means that gamers won’t be given coupons with every achievement. Your plans of sitting back killing 10 rats just to earn yourself a stack of cheeseburgers has been dashed!
Kiip is the brainchild of 19-year old Brian Wong, a former Digg employee. He explains the new system as “real-world rewards for virtual achievements”, and observes that including the advertising in this manner removes annoying banner ads, which can (and generally do) break the immersion of the game. Instead, these new achievements pop up at a “natural pause point” in the game.
Wong also explains that – because games are designed to suit certain demographics (you know what sort of gamer will be likely to play an FPS as compared to The Sims), the need for datamining simply isn’t there. Target the ads to the game’s primary market and you’re set.
The system has been in stealth mode for more than half a year, and Wong claims that, in earlier tests, up to 50% of users chose to receive the coupon after earning an achievement – a rate far higher than other in-game ad schemes (with percentages in the single-digits).
Oh, and – in case you were wondering, the achievements and coupons scale. Killing 10 rats might get you a coupon for a dollar off, while finishing the entire game of Angry Birds? You might receive an electronic device like the Sony Dash. Now all those hours you dedicate to mobile games might not be wasted after all!