Ads are broken because they don’t include the user, according to InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari.
Today, the Bangalore, India-based mobile ad company is offering a solution: a new app-based discovery platform hosted by a pet monkey called Miip (“Meep”).
“Advertising on mobile [and in general] is broken and not consumer-centric,” he told me via email, because it’s been structured as persuasive monologues with no room for user reactions.
“The experience delivered to consumers often does not demonstrate much value,” Tewari noted. Product discovery has been intent-driven, he said, with few possibilities for serendipitous discoveries about unknown things.
The discovery zone is reached by a click on the character or the Miip icon in an app. A back button returns the user to the app.
If a user is in the Hipmunk app, for instance, and searches for travel to Hawaii, Miip will recommend content and products connected to those travel plans. This encourages people “to discover products that truly complement the developer’s app and the user’s context within it,” he said, through a monetizable alternative to traditional ads.
In a dating app, for instance, Miip can suggest “tips to look great on your first date” as a starting point. It then leads to “a collection of curated products around fashion and accessories, with multiple recommendations that would suit the user.”
Similarly, a Miip zone in a fitness app might show curated recommendations for jogging outfits and other workout products.
There are four key components: discovery zones that offer a sort of relevant store front, a buy button for the apps via payment partner Stripe, curated user stories, and the ability for the system to learn from feedback about how users like the offerings.
If a user chooses “I hate it” for a recommended beach vacation, for instance, then there will be fewer suggestions of beach-related products or trips.
Miip exists as one dynamically created version for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, with relevant products automatically pulled from brands and retailers. InMobi said it won’t charge for Miip experiences themselves, but expects to earn revenue through advertisers and retailers. The offering is now in beta and is launching today on 40,000 apps, with general availability in September.
The name, Tewari said, comes from the term “meep,” which the Urban Dictionary defines as “whatever you want it to mean.” Some possibilities include “a random expression of happiness used to fill gaps in conversation.”