Startup Watch: Kiip Gives Gamers Something to Play for

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We've seen a rash of advertisers underwriting free access or giving away free stuff: they're unlocking news pay walls , doling out free soda for watching commercials or bonus Farmville cash for clicking ads. Another young startup Kiip is bringing that logic to mobile gaming.

When you beat a level or get a high score, Kiip will bring in advertisers to gift free food, lipstick and, soon enough, cars or vacations for playing games gamers are already playing.

But the question remains: While mobile gaming currently has next to no advertising, will free branded stuff be welcome in the realm of gamers? Or would they prefer to go on tapping and killing cartoon villains undisturbed?

"Gamers are going to decide whether it's worth their time or not," said Matt Story, director and gaming expert at Publicis Groupe shop Denuo. "I do think that gamers will be receptive if it's worth the interruption."

Here's how Kiip works: It's like an ad network, except for rewards. You don't "see" it, but for beating levels or winning a certain number of points, Kiip will send a gamer a pop-up that they've won a free bag of Pop Chips, or lipstick from Sephora. They can either enter an email address for instructions on how to collect the gift later, or ignore it and go on playing. In return, advertisers get sampling or to snuggle up to the gamer in that warm, elated moment when they're, well, winning. Kiip gets paid on a cost-per-action basis.

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Find out more from Brian Wong at the Creativity and Technology conference in New York on June 9.

Visit the CaT website to buy tickets.

Less than a year out of the gate, we haven't yet seen proof that gamers are gaga for Kiip rewards. But already the startup's 19-year-old founder Brian Wong has wrangled advertisers like Vitamin Water, 1-800-Flowers, GNC, Carl's Jr, Hardees and Dr Pepper. He's also raised $4.3 million from Hummer Winblad, True Ventures and Crosslink Capital. Digg founder Kevin Rose is an adviser.

Catch Wong at CAT, June 9 in New York.
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