Kiip’s Swarm Brings Mass Rewards to In-Game Challenges

Play a game, scale the leaderboard, win a big reward — that’s the theory behind Swarm, a new product from San Francisco-based mobile games rewards startup Kiip.

The Swarm campaigns, which made their debut today with a promotion for the Disney movie John Carter in Get Set Games’ Mega Jump, are limited-time tournaments where the winners get big prizes. It’s different from Kiip’s standard “always on” offering, where players get rewards or deals from advertisers when they make in-game achievements. But it’s still complementary. Kiip’s regular promotions cost between $0.25 to $3 per engagement to show ads when players do things like level up. Wong didn’t say how much the Swarm promotions cost though.

The product allows Kiip to open its customer base to advertisers in new verticals like entertainment (that don’t fit well with its existing rewards system), and helps the company’s stable of more than 65 developers get value out of what Kiip’s co-founder and CEO Brian Wong calls “net new inventory” – in game achievement moments.

According to Wong, the campaigns, which incorporate branding directly into a game are easy for developers because they leverage existing Kiip assets and don’t require more work.

“We wanted to have something that looked integrated, but didn’t cause the developer a lot of headaches,” he explains. “So what Swarm does is use the existing integration the developer has with Kiip and automatically set it up, calling in web views when necessary.

By using the game’s existing interface, advertisers can add a lot of branded content to their Swarm promotions, but Wong was also careful to point out that campaigns don’t totally take over a game — an area of the original screen is always visible, ensuring that the players aren’t put off by too much advertising.

Kiip began testing Swarms in September with its Guinness Worlds Records challenge and in Wong’s words, “the promotion effectiveness was astounding.” Test events saw players post hundreds of thousands of scores and generate millions of meaningful impressions for advertisers, but were also surprisingly beneficial to developers.

“Developers saw a huge uptick in engagement (achievements per unique device), and retention,” explains Wong. “People will come back to the game if there are pull mechanisms and this is one very easy one for them.”

According to Wong, Swarms are flexible product – the promotions will vary in size, profile and even payment as they offer non-financial benefits like retention to developers. For advertisers, rather than pay-per-coupon redemption, Swarms will be based on “CPMM – Cost-Per-Thousand-Meaningful-iMpressions,” meaning a player will have to actively post their score to a leaderboard, not just watch it being posted. Wong did not reveal Swarm’s CPMM rates.

Disney’s Swarm campaign for John Carter runs from December 23rd to 26th and “was designed specifically to ride the uptick in activity of gameplay during the Christmas weekend,” explains Wong. While he wouldn’t reveal the company’s 2012 Swarm schedule, Wong did hint that another John Carter campaign will be running closer to movie’s March 9th release date.