Mobile Rewards Startup Kiip Gets A Strategic Investment From Ad Giant Interpublic

Kiip just announced that it has received funding from ad holding company Interpublic.

Brian Wong, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, said the investment was actually included in the $11 million round that he announced last year, and it’s part of a partnership between the two companies. Kiip and IPG were still working out the details of the partnership, so they couldn’t announce it until now.

It’s a great announcement for Kiip, since it gives extra legitimacy to the company’s relatively new model – presenting consumers with rewards from brand advertisers when they reach “moments of achievement” in their mobile apps. (The company was initially focused on games, but it’s expanding into fitness, cooking, and utility apps.)

Wong said he’s worked with agencies owned by all of the big four ad holding companies (including IPG), and the issue was, “You’re always on the other side of the table.” By actually partnering with IPG, he’s hoping to have a more productive discussion that moves way from the industry’s focus on “banner ads that are optimized for pricing, not for quality,” and towards a more high-quality mobile experience.

From the IPG side, the partnership will be managed by the IPG Media Lab, which will help marketers work with Kiip.

“IPG Mediabrands and the IPG Media Lab identified Kiip as a key player in the increasingly important mobile market, with a thoughtful and effective model that connects brands with the modern consumer,” said Interpublic chairman and CEO Michael I. Roth said in a press release. “It’s always exciting when we can help our clients find new pathways to consumer engagement.”

Wong added that the investment shouldn’t affect Kiip’s relationship with the other ad companies. After all, he said that Buddy Media continued to do business with everyone after it took money from WPP.

“Working closer never hurt anybody, especially when all of these agencies are looking for better ways to build new revenue streams,” he said.

Wong also shared some numbers about recent milestones. Kiip served more than 1 billion “moments” in 2012, and 300 million moments in the last 30 days. Wong acknowledged that this kind of thing could be criticized as a vanity metric, but he argued that in this case, it’s not, because these each moment is an exclusive opportunity for Kiip to serve offers to users.

Are people actually acting on those offers? Well, Wong said there was one title that saw 1 million people redeem Kiip rewards last year.