Anyone who happened to be paying attention when it was announced that Angry Birds backer Kaj Hed and his investor friends had ploughed $5.75 million into Kiosked might have guessed that we could expect something big from the Helsinki startup. The software calls itself a ‘content activation platform’, but that fails to do it justice, for what it actually does is to remedy one of the biggest headaches facing any kind of publisher – monetizing their content.
As any blogger will tell you, publishing is a tough business to make money in. It’s no longer a case of just signing up for Google Adwords and sprinkling those annoying ads all over your site. For the vast majority of websites, this approach only serves to piss off legions of their readers, and perhaps generate a few pennies in income at best. Banner ads are seldom bought by anyone except the big boys these days, and even then they insisting on paying per million clicks or impressions or whatever.
Readers have grown tired of the ads too. They’re far too obtrusive, everyone knows what they are, few will ever click. Simply put, the traditional website ad format doesn’t work that good anyone, at least not for smaller outlets. What publishers need is something cool, something innovative, something that sells what people actually want to buy – this is where Kiosked delivers.
Kiosked works on the simple premise that “anything you see can be kiosked”, and activates content with tiny revolving ad icons displaying various products that publishers wish to offer their readers (see example below). The idea being that most buyers want to act impulsively, thinking “I have to have that!” and then wondering where the hell they can actually buy it. Kiosked makes it easy for the impulsive buyer to act on those feelings, yet does so in a way that’s discreet enough not to frustrate anyone who is less inclined to buy, as your typical popup ads and Google ads have the annoying tendency to do.
The system can be a bit fiddly to set up, as Phil Butler describes in his review of the software on Everything PR, but once it’s ready to go the effectiveness of Kiosked is all too apparent, as my own clumsy effort to flog a few over-priced iPhone cases from Harrods shows:
What’s really cool about Kiosked is that all of the images and videos displayed can be remotely controlled, letting brands and content owners update the images, videos, and linked content, no matter if it’s embedded on someone’s blog or posted onto their Facebook wall. On top of that, the system has dynamic features too. For example, hover the cursor over an image and the content that shows up will be based on the user’s location and other factors, so that marketers and publishers can target users more accurately.
It’s still early days yet for Kiosked, but already the company claims to advertise more than 10 million products and has counted over 200 million unique visitors to its kiosks. The idea has caught on with several leading brands too, including Angry Birds, Dell, DreamWorks, Karmaloop, Harrods, Agent Provocateur and OneDirection – none of whom would be wasting their time if they didn’t think that there was real value to be had here.
Kiosked as an idea is subtle, yet powerful, and could well have a dramatic impact on the way that we interact with the web.