The App Monetization Trick You’re Not Using

Last month, RunKeeper announced its partnership with Kiip. It’s a big deal for the popular mobile fitness app, as it’s the first time in the app’s six-year history that it has featured any form of advertising. CEO of RunKeeper, Jason Jacobs, explained that he didn’t want to disrupt the experience of his 34+ million users with banner ads or intrusive interstitials. Instead, he turned to mobile rewards, which he felt complimented his app’s experience.

One key to creating a smooth flow with any kind of advertising, including rewards, is to create custom notifications. RunKeeper did a fabulous job of designing native notifications that blend within its app. With these rewards, users don’t feel as if they’re subjected to a spammy brand message after a workout. They feel like they’ve received a special gift, tailored to their exact needs.


Why should you use native notifications? On average, typical rewards, called direct-to-fullscreen, have an 8.4 percent redemption rate, while native notifications maintain a 12.3 percent redemption rate.


There are a few crucial elements to producing rewards that feel native. To help, Elyse Bogacz, UI Designer at RunKeeper, and Amadeus Demarzi, Kiip Co-Founder and Director of Design, shared their thoughts on designing native notifications.

1. On the brainstorming process:

Elyse: When the idea of doing some kind of ad serving in RunKeeper came up, we decided very early on as a team that we could and should do better than your typical media placement. The key initiative was to make sure that, while still hitting business goals, we were serving up ads in a way that felt like a natural enhancement to the RunKeeper experience – not something that was disruptive and foreign to our users. Our minds ran through the possibilities of sponsored content and some kind of rewards system where users could earn a bit extra. From there, we slowly nailed down the type of experience we wanted the RunKeeper community to have.

Amadeus: Rewards are functionalities within the application. When designing your app originally, you give extensive thought to navigation and icon placement. Rewards deserve just as much care; treat them as an inherent function of your app, rather than an afterthought. Make the experience seamless. This will mean different things for different apps.

2. On the current reward screen:

Elyse: We looked at a number of places in the app that something like this would make sense. After analyzing a number of angles and pulling some data, we decided that after an activity completion seemed like the most appropriate moment to share something new. Completing an activity already drums up a pretty great feeling of accomplishment for most users. We decided to reward that accomplishment with something more tangible; that’s pretty much when we started work on the reward screen.

Amadeus: Timing is everything. Traditional advertising often feels out of place and interrupts the application. The key to a good user experience is making rewards feel as if they are a part of the app. Present rewards at natural breaks. For example, if the reward is integrated into a game, don’t present the reward while the user is in the middle of a boss fight. Present rewards after users defeat the boss and are able to catch their breath. The reward should feel seamless and appear as a congratulation of their achievement, rather than an ad.

3. On advice for first-timers:

Elyse: I’d say two things: 1. Pay attention to the details, and 2. Make it feel like your own! Although we were introducing third-party content into our app, we felt really strongly about only serving up content/rewards that our users would care about. This gave us a great foundation to make everything feel like it belonged there. We also customized our Kiip integration to make it feel as native as possible so that users would trust it. If there’s a piece of UI you want to put custom style on, but you’re not sure … just ask! You’d be amazed the subtle tweaks you can make to pull everything together in a really cohesive way.

Amadeus: Treat rewards as transactions. Remember that a redemption on Kiip is actually a form of transaction – the user is giving an email for a reward. Transactions can only successfully take place if there is trust between both parties. Having a native introduction to winning a reward is key to establishing this trust. This reward introduction should explain clearly that the user has achieved something based on actions in the application.


RunKeeper is not the only app to expertly integrate native notifications. With this advice in mind, let’s take a look at how some other apps have handled native notifications.


When photo editing app Perfect365 wanted to reward users naturally, it set up native notifications through Kiip. Whenever achievement moments occurred, such as downloading the latest styles, users could serendipitously receive rewards from high-end beauty brands, like Sephora, Julep and Nordstrom. The rewards appear as a gift icon in the app’s toolbar – a gesture that doesn’t interrupt user experience.

When users want to claim the reward, they simply click the icon. They can then navigate around without ever feeling as if they are leaving the app. This is a great tactic for developers focused on re-engagement, as users never lose sight of their pre-reward activity.

Perfect36 custom


Any.Do is a productivity app that enables users to create and complete to-do lists. Any.Do wanted to celebrate the satisfaction users have when they cross off tasks, so it built a custom screen for rewards.

The screen pops up to notify users that they are eligible for Kiip rewards, with a focus on congratulating them. Rather than disrupt the user with an interstitial ad, the app recognizes the user’s hard work. The emphasis is taken off of the advertisement, and placed on how great the user is. Naturally, the user appreciates this response, feels positive valence and is more likely to engage with the reward that appears seconds later.


myHomework helps students attain high marks by recognizing A+ study habits with native notifications. myHomework integrated a new page within its app, notifying the user of a reward alongside a timer. The excitement of the achievement moment is matched by the rush of collecting limited-time offers.

myhomework custom

Ready to get designing your own native notifications? Contact us anytime with questions at We’re happy to help.

Rewards lead to higher engagement among users and better monetization for developers. 84 percent of mobile users say they prefer mobile rewards vs. ads, and over 3,000 games and apps already use Kiip to monetize. Learn more about Kiip at


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