Quattro, of course, was acquired by Apple, which used the mobile ad network as the foundation for its iAd program. Albright, who led business development for iAd and is now SessionM’s CEO, describes the startup as an attempt to tackle one of the biggest problems he saw in the mobile industry — engagement and retention. He says that mobile consumers now have “so many choices, so many different options to choose from,” that can be hard for any one app to hold their attention. SessionM’s solution? Game mechanics and rewards.
Specifically, SessionM customers can create different achievements, which are then unlocked by users as they visit an app and perform specific activities. Those achievements confer status within an app’s community, but they’re also worth mPoints, which can be redeemed for gift cards, discounts and other rewards. Initial publisher partners include Viacom Media Digital Networks, The Weather Channel, Demand Media, Fox Sports, and Glam Media.
SessionM works as an HTML5 layer on top of an app, so publishers don’t need to change their designs. Albright says the goal was to make it “lightweight” and customizable for publishers. The publishers decide what kind of activity they want to reward, and they can even integrate it with other mobile platforms like gaming social network OpenFeint.
Albright says he also wants to create a compelling environment for advertisers, offering them units like video ads and branded mini-games. Honda, Tyson Foods, and Volvo have all signed on as advertisers.
That sounds good for publishers and advertisers, but mobile consumers might be less thrilled to find that an extra layer of interaction and ads has been introduced to their favorite apps. Albright says that the initial response has been positive, with high engagement rates. If you don’t like it, you can opt-out, and there are even automatic opt-out capabilities for users who don’t engage with the SessionM features after a certain number of times.
SessionM is backed by Highland Capital Partners (which also invested in Quattro) and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (where it’s part of the iFund).