We all hate pointless ads. We all love some extra cash. Put these two equations together and you have a winning formula for Hikemeup, a newly-launched Singapore-based app which turns those pesky ads we’re bombarded with into dollars in our own pockets.
This might sound too good to be true, but it shouldn’t. If you think about it, our eyeballs and clicks are seriously valuable to advertisers and platforms that host ads, and Hikemeup is essentially a platform where ads can get to consumers. But instead of piggybacking on other kinds of content to draw in viewers (think YouTube and those infuriating ads we’re force-fed before we’re allowed to skip to the videos proper), the team behind Hikemeup is relying on two things that all of us can appreciate: visually appealing ads tailored to your interests, and instant, no-strings-attached cash rewards.
How It Works
The problem with today’s advertisements is that they’re often disruptive, if not downright dull. But Hikemeup, says the ambitious trio behind the app — Harish Ramachandran, Sophie Syed, and Tim Davies — plans to put the ‘simple’ and ‘effective’ back into advertising.
Through Hikemeup — which soft-launched for iOS and Android just a few days ago — users get to select up to five interests and receive ad content only when related to their choices. Currently, the app allows you to choose from and rank six categories in order of preference — ‘Entertainment & Events’, ‘Beauty & Fashion’, ‘Food & Drink’, ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Travel’, and best of all, ‘Surprise Me!’. That’s a wide enough assortment that everyone should be able to find at least one category of interest.
During registration for the beta test, you’ll also get the chance to indicate the advertising forms that annoy you most — for some, that might be animated banners, for others those dreaded YouTube pop-up ads. The result of this customisation is that all the ad content you receive via Hikemeup promises to actually be useful, or at least interesting to you. That’s more than can be said for most of the non-targeted (and hence yawn-inducing) ads out there.
What happens next? If an ad catches your eye, all you need to do is skim through it for at least five seconds. This might sound like a chore, but isn’t — for one, you don’t even need to actually keep your eyes on the screen, and for another, that’s around the length of time it takes to scroll to the bottom of the ad in my experience. There, you’ll find the ‘hike’ button, aka the magic button which gets you points that can be converted to cash.
Each ad campaign that you ‘hike’ will earn you 50 points, which translates to S$0.05 in real currency. That may not seem like much, but for every 50 seconds that you spend on the app — or every 10 ad campaigns that you ‘hike’ — you get fifty cents, bringing a whole new meaning to the maxim “time is money”. At any point in time, you have the option of cashing out on your points via PayPal. And if you get your friends to join you in your ‘hiking’ experience, you’ll receive rewards every time they ‘hike’ something as well.
While Hikemeup’s user interface isn’t as elegant as I’d hoped — and given the visual nature of ads, design is everything — certain elements like the interactive opinion polls and the Tinder-like swiping through of ads make for a refreshing change. And given that we’re swamped with ads day in and day out, being able to get useful ads and cash rewards on Hikemeup is a twofold win for us.
The Future of Advertising
The inspiration behind Hikemeup, the team reveals, came about from a frustration we’ve all experienced — ads interrupting our quality entertainment. Sometime between watching videos and playing games on his iPhone, founder Harish realised that advertising had become a pain in the neck instead of the valuable resource it could be. With that, he set about trying to do it right.
Looking ahead, the team anticipates that the saturated, ever-changing marketing world will be a challenge for them. Hikemeup is based upon a fairly revolutionary concept and this, Sophie points out, has already created difficulties in “convincing advertisers that we are a sustainable, effective channel”. Since their inception in November last year, however, they’ve come a long way in getting marketers and companies on board with their plan to change the future of advertising.
Right now, Hikemeup is only in its beta launch stage, but it certainly has big plans. “A year from now,” Sophie says, “our goal is to ensure that when someone opens Hikemeup, every single ad they see will be so relevant to them that it’s as though we personally handpicked it for them.”
We’re so used to dismissing ads as irritating and superfluous that it’s strange to imagine how they might add value to our lives. But while most run-of-the-mill ads out there are scarcely worth a mention, certain creative ad campaigns like the Magnum Pleasure Hunt have proven that ads can be amazing, if given the chance. Hikemeup’s pioneering model isn’t quite the first to try giving us consumers a better deal when it comes to being force-fed advertisements — and it hopefully won’t be the last.
If this is the future of advertising, I certainly can’t wait.