Mobile Rewards Startup Kiip Upgrades Its User Contests With New “Challenges” Product

When Kiip announced last week that that it’s powering rewards in Zepto Labs’ popular Cut the Rope mobile games, co-founder and CEO Brian Wong said it didn’t share one of the key details (because, uh, reasons) — that this is the debut of a new Kiip product called Challenges.

The company is best-known for allowing advertisers to sponsor rewards in games and other apps at key moments, say when players beat a level. With Challenges, instead of just giving each user a reward, brands can run contests and sweepstakes and give prizes to the winners. For example, Wong said Cut the Rope players will have a chance to win plush toys today (and you’ll see them on the Kiip rewards site tomorrow).

That concept may sound familiar to readers who have been following Kiip, because it first started offering these types of user contests about two years ago, through a product called Swarm. (At the time, Wong told me that Swarm would allow Kiip to enlist advertisers in new industries like automotive, where “you can’t give away a million cars.”) Since then, however, Kiip has been relatively quiet about Swarm — Wong told me this week that the product is doing fine, but it’s really meant to be integrated with games, and he’s been spending more time talking up Kiip’s efforts to bring rewards to other non-gaming apps, such as Any.Do, 8Tracks, and Recipe Search.

Challenges are supposed to address several of the main limitations to Swarms. For one thing, they could only be activated at a specific point in the game, which meant that if a player wanted another chance to win the prize, they’d have to go back and play that same level again. Now, however, Wong said that contests can now be “run dynamically” on any game level. He also said they can now be triggered server-side, which means they can be updated more easily, without requiring any changes to the software development kit.

Even though Wong describes Challenges as a specific product within the broader umbrella of Kiip’s Swarms, he also suggested that all Swarm campaigns would have access to the new features. This might seem like a pedantic point, but honestly, going back-and-forth with Wong about the relationship between the two products made me a little nuts. So I asked Wong why he didn’t just call it Swarm 2.0 (or, you know, something like that), and he replied, “That’s great feedback. Challenges just stuck. We might rename it.”