Smartwatch brand Pebble, Quaker Oats and P&G’s Secret Deoderant are among the first brands signed up to the rewards programme. Initially there will be about 10 rewards, which will also include song downloads sponsored by brands, on the app to unlock.
Users of varying fitness levels will be rewarded as they reach their goals “serendipitously” in the app with a pop-up congratulations message and the opportunity to click-through to redeem their gift. The reward can also be shared with friends via social media.
The rewards scheme, which launches today (19 August) is RunKeeper’s first advertising offer to marketers.
RunKeeper’s founder and CEO Jason Jacobs tells Marketing Week the app’s close personal relationship with its “affluent” users and the data it has about their training programmes makes it a unique opportunity to advertisers.
He adds: “We are with users at their moments of elation: their fastest run ever, when they’ve smashed their personal record or completed a race. [We also have a unique] demographic of very affluent, sport oriented people who are willing to spend money on [equipment] to get them further.”
Jacobs says RunKeeper has deliberately trod carefully with ads to date, but that it is open to exploring other formats that fit with the user experience.
He adds: ”We believe rewards fits into that paradigm, but there [may be] other [forms of advertising] that do that as well – but don’t expect to see banner ads.”
The rewards initiative is being marketed via email, social and PR but Jacobs says RunKeeper also plans to “catch users off guard” by rewarding them at “moments of serendipity when [users’] endorphins are high” after just achieving one of their fitness targets.
RunKeeper launched in 2008 and has since grown to more than 34 million users across its iOS and Android apps, relying on word of mouth and partnerships rather than paid-for advertising to grow awareness of the brand, which competes with other apps such as Strava, MapMyFitness and Nike+.
Jacobs would not rule out paid-for advertising in the future, but no above the line marketing activity is currently planned.
Outside of the health and fitness sector, Microsoft Xbox partnered with American Express to reward gamers with real-life gifts and offers for their in-game achievements in 2012.