When you talk to Micke Paqvalén, the CEO of Kiosked, it's easy to get on his level of excitement about the product. He talks quickly and forcefully about their 'e-commerce everywhere' solution, laying out the roadmap and reasonings behind one aspect of their strategy before jumping up to the next level of their roadmap. A common phrase coming from him is "this is big," or "this is only the beginning," a phrase he used with the $6.9 million (€5.2 million) funding round they have announced today.
The round of funding was led by Kevin Wall of Craton Equity Partners, who will also join Kiosked’s Board of Directors, and John Lindfors, Partner at Digital Sky Technologies. Last June, Kiosked announced a €4.5 million round lead by Kai Hed, the Chairman and main investor in Rovio.
Kiosked's priority is to bring webshops to the media users are already consuming, allowing seamless e-commerce and essentially a "buy it now" button to anything you see. For example if you're reading an article about an NBA player, hovering over the image you can see a blue "K" button pop up next to their jersey. Clicking on that button pops open a web store where you can then buy the jersey without ever leaving the article you're reading. It's like the gum right next to the checkout counter; you didn't even know you wanted it until you see it, and then you can purchase it right away.
Services from Finland like Kiosked, ThingLink, and Publishzer all plays into the "smart content" trend that Kiosked sees as the future (their report can be found here). What it boils down to is that the content we are consuming today, like images and videos, are fairly dumb, and they envision that in the future content will be more like non-intrusive advertising that will lead customers to exactly what they are looking for, or lead them to deeper levels of information. On a basic level this means content will always be more up to date, useful, measurable, and social, rather than a static image or video. You can see this trend already happening, and after thinking about it, it makes sense that the web will be much deeper and smarter like this 10 years down the road.
Even if it's a monetization solution for publishers, It's mindless for authors to attach a static image and takes time and effort to make it smarter. To reduce the friction Kiosked has invested heavily into the R&D side to make attaching tags more seamless, by building up a database to allow publishers to automatically tag content based on the metadata and content it finds in the page.
Building this solution means having a close ties to products and brands, and Kiosked claims to work with over 10,000 brands worldwide, and has closer partnerships with names like Nike, ASOS, Sanoma, Zalando, Rovio Entertainment, Brightcove, Magento, eBay and Nokia.
Paqvalén says, "Our click-through rates average at 5.5%, which is significantly higher than traditional forms of online advertising. I am especially impressed by our progress in mobile and this funding enables rapid roll-out of our new mobile content monetization solutions,” which is the next stage of their roadmap that will be interesting to see as they start pushing it more on the market.
And clearly it makes sense. Mobile advertising is a tricky beast, and banner advertisements really don't work on mobile. Despite that, e-commerce is moving more and more to tablets and smartphones, with mobile commerce expected to hit 15% of all e-commerce this year.
In the press release, they quote Kai Hed, the Chairman of both Rovio and Kiosked as saying, "According to eMarketer, the mobile ad market will grow by 89% this year alone and the share of interactive video ads will double this year and again in 2014. At the same time brands and publishers look for new ways to engage with their customers in a way that is useful and non-intrusive. I’m confident this disruptive technology will make a big impact on the e-commerce strategies of leading brands and publishers alike.“
Kiosked is one of the more exciting startups to watch in Finland, thanks to the names and funding rounds behind the product, and additionally, their R&D and Brand partnerships have laid a solid foundation behind their concept. "Smart Content" and their solution makes a lot of sense to me, but I think the true validation of their concept will come when I stumble upon a blue kiosked button in the wild. The framework seems to be falling in place, but it should be interesting to see how publishers and advertisers begin to embrace it, especially after their big push into mobile.
Kiosked now has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Singapore, and has tripled in the last twelve months. By the end of 2013 they project to have 100 employees.