Making mobile human at Marketing’s Mobile Conference

When it comes to mobile marketing, Brian Wong, the founder and CEO of Kiip, the mobile rewards network that allows brands to prize gamers with real world prizes, believes in “making it all human.” During his keynote session at Marketing’s Mobile Conference in Toronto on Tuesday morning, the 20-year-old hot-shot entrepreneur from British Columbia offered […]

When it comes to mobile marketing, Brian Wong, the founder and CEO of Kiip, the mobile rewards network that allows brands to prize gamers with real world prizes, believes in “making it all human.”

During his keynote session at Marketing’s Mobile Conference in Toronto on Tuesday morning, the 20-year-old hot-shot entrepreneur from British Columbia offered marketers advice on how to connect with consumers on an emotional level rather than simply converting billboard creative into a mobile ad.

In one word: humanization. “Making things emotional, making things sensitive, intimate and connecting, making things ultimately unique,” which also happen to be the principles Kiip followed as it evolved, said Wong, a former employee of social news website Digg.

Ads on the Kiip platform, for instance, appeal to the player’s sense of accomplishment after reaching a certain level within a game, and rewards them for it. This acknowledgement gives a sense of achievement, which is what every game experience has in common, said Wong, who has made Forbes’ “Top 30 Under 30″ list in the social/mobile space.

The idea came to Wong in 2010 when he was on a long-haul flight to Asia and noticed the number of passengers playing games on their mobile phones to pass the time. When Kiip first launched, it was active in 10 mobile apps and today it’s in more than 500.

“The reason why we chose [a reward-based model is] because ultimately as the device becomes smaller it becomes more and more intimate; it becomes closer to essentially our bodies, we carry it around everywhere,” said Wong.

The achievement moment “implied people were happy, they were satisfied,” he said. “This level of additional insights was key because you think of display [ads] and the limitations in size, but you don’t think of the emotional implications of what is happening.”

Kiip has seen a 22% redemption reward rate, and 50% of its redeemers come back for more. The company counts PopChips, Secret, 1-800-Flowers and Skittles among its brand partners.

But how do you add emotion to the mobile advertising space? During his presentation, Wong offered these tips:

• Tap into existing patterns of behaviour: It’s very difficult to make people do new things, so “go where the fish are,” said Wong. For instance, Nike Fuel Band takes everyday activities such as keeping fit and makes them fun because it helps the users track and achieve their goals.

• Take a look at the moment: Imagine where your consumer is when engaging with your product. This not only applies to games, but moments in activities as well. Pepsi’s Propel enhanced water brand, for example, provided consumers with a free MP3 to add to their workout list after they achieved a particular fitness goal.

• Engage meaningfully: Advertising is about creating a relationship between the brand and the consumer, but that relationship needs to be meaningful, said Wong. “When you build a relationship with friends it involves reciprocity whether it’s through gifts or a knowledge exchange… It’s easy to love a reward, it’s much harder to love an ad,” he said.

• Keep it simple: Look at what consumers are doing and make it convenient, said Wong. Consumers are becoming overwhelmed and don’t want to be barraged with dozens and dozens of point schemes; they want something instant and convenient.

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