St. Catharines start-up hits the Dragons’ Den

With ad-blocking on the rise, one mobile company is offering to reward users with cash and coupons for watching ads.

Could a bribe be the answer to ad-blockers? Canadian start-up Caddle thinks so, and it’s making its case to the Dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den next week.

Caddle is a St.Catharine’s, ON-based mobile app company, founded in early 2016, that offers consumers rewards to watch ads. Those who watch the videos from Caddle’s partners (its portfolio includes Pedigree, Source for Sports, South St. Burgers and new clients Tropicana and Oikos) are rewarded with coupons, money in their Caddle account or they can cash out and receive a cheque. It also rewards consumers for taking surveys.

The company does not offer rewards for users watching ads on external publishers — instead, users have to log onto the app or site to watch ads directly on Caddle’s properties. Promotions for the app are running through targeted social campaigns, banner and pre-roll advertisement, e-newsletters and mailers in the GTA.

Founder and CEO Ransom Hawley is keeping the number of users for the app close to his chest (when the company last went public with numbers in May, it was at 20,000), but he’s already noticed usage is especially high in three areas: millennials, women and Quebecers. Over 60% of its users are millennials, more than 60% are women and more than 40% reside in Quebec.

He also said regular engagement is strong, with more than 30% of its user base using the app at least once per week and more than 60% using it once or more per month. Video ads vary in length from a few seconds to 30 seconds, while surveys can take several minutes. Rewards can be anywhere from $0.10 to $10 for surveys, videos or cashing in receipts.

“When we approach potential clients, reception is always positive because they understand that ad-blocking is a problem,” Hawley told MiC. He said the company works both with agencies and directly with companies.

The practice is actually higher in Canada than the U.S. — a recent study by Adobe found that ad-blocker software penetration was at 24% in Canada (as opposed to 18% in the U.S.).

“We’ve proven that people will actually engage with an ad if they feel like they can get a reward out of it,” said Hawley. “And because we do surveys, advertisers have started to learn how users feel about their ads.”

With its segment on Dragons’ Den, Hawlet is hoping Caddle can raise its profile to grow its user-base, which in turn will attract more clients, he said.

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