Kiip’s In-Game Mobile Advertising Network Launches Monday, Raises $4 Million

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

Another mobile advertising network? Yes, this one — San Francisco-based Kiip — says it’s for brands that want to tap into the booming world of mobile gaming.

Founded by 19-year-old Brian Wong, who worked on business development at Digg, the company raised $4 million from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Crosslink Capital, with participation from earlier investor True Ventures. Wong said the company’s consuming focus on games would make it stand out against other bigger ad networks like InMobi or Google’s AdMob, which does have a formidable team of sales and BD people focused on gaming.

Since the network is launching on Monday, Wong wouldn’t reveal exactly how Kiip works with mobile games. I tried playing a little bit of twenty questions with him.

It’s not a pay-per-install network: “We’re not a cross-promotion network. Our model is actually complementary to theirs,” he said. “The Tapjoys of the world are focused on helping developers generate traction through bought installs. Our model is different. We’re a value-exchange network.”

It’s not really display advertising either: “Nobody ever taps on banner ads. It’s one of those facts of life. When they do, it’s almost always accidental.”

It’s not incentivized ad watching: “We don’t want to do very contrived attention exchanges like paying you 50 coins to watch my video. That’s a contrived advertising experience and it doesn’t express true, genuine interest.”

It doesn’t have recommended IAB units like banners or interstitials:There aren’t any banners. We want an experience that is complementary to the game and not focused on physical real estate.”

It’s not branded virtual goods, which aren’t particularly scalable either.

So what is it? We’ll have to wait and see until Monday.

We don’t at all doubt the premise of the company. Mobile games are the dominant vertical on the iOS and Android platforms millions of people spend billions of minutes engrossed in these titles. Angry Birds Rio, created from a partnership between Rovio Mobile and Twentieth Century Fox, saw 10 million downloads in 10 days — evidence that a major studio can get deep engagement from million of consumers at a fraction of the cost of a TV campaign.

Wong hopes that Kiip will fill a middle ground between these expensive custom integrations and traditional mobile advertising and that it will be something far more scalable.