It can be challenging for brands to develop relationships with consumers these days. The internet is full of distractions, and talking about brand purpose or corporate beliefs can too easily veer into bragging, turning consumers off. But it doesn't have to be that way, according to Good-Loop, a company that looks to turn internet advertising into societal change by incentivizing consumers to watch ads with a charitable donation.
As purpose is increasingly woven into marketing, interest in Good-Loop's approach is strong. The Edinburgh, Scotland-based company was founded in 2016 and recently received $6.1 million in Series A funding to fuel expansion in the United States, where about one-third of Good-Loop’s business currently is. It has also attracted the interest of such blue-chip companies as Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestle, Levis, Adidas, NBC Universal and Nike.
"If you give these advertisers a bit of your attention, you can do good for free," said Amy Williams, CEO of Good-Loop of the business premise. "We manage that value exchange through various kinds of engagement tactics and technology, but fundamentally it's about that exchange."
Addressing a disconnect
It's not exactly news that digital ads are intrusive, as a result annoying consumers and challenging marketings to find ways to drive engagement that creates a positive connection. At the same time, brands increasingly want to connect themselves with purposeful causes on a number of fronts even as consumers continue the cat-and-mouse games of trying to avoid advertising and maintain their privacy.
"There is a disconnect between brands wanting to be purposeful and helpful, and their ads being disruptive, intrusive and unpleasant," said Williams.
Ads placed by Good-Loop include messaging encouraging consumers to watch the entire ad — they are all skippable — to unlock a donation worth 50% of the ad's placement to a charity designated by Good-Loop and the brand.
The average completion rates for Good-Loop's ads are between 75% and 95%, far above the industry benchmark of 45% for skippable ads, per Williams. She also claims the ads lead to increases in brand affinity and perception in relation to those causes and that collectively Good-Loop's advertising has contributed more than $2.6 million to charitable causes in 2020.
"An individual’s data is valuable, but it's not enough money to really be interesting. It's not going to make them a millionaire," said Williams. "However, if we all use our data to do good, we can make an impact. Individually, we make 10 dollars a year, collectively we can donate $5 million for charities around the world."
Good-Loop runs campaigns in more than 18 markets worldwide, including the U.S., and hopes to grow its business here to 50% in a few years.
When HP was looking to launch a marketing campaign around its sustainability efforts, Good-Loop was a "natural partner" for the effort, said Ian Mundorff, the company's global head of media.
"It was a nice overlap in our values and being helpful to [environmental organization] 1% for the Planet," he said. "It was a tactical way to put our sustainability values into practice."
Ads for good
Good-Loop is looking into a variety of ways to harness the internet's power for good. The company has developed a watermark to help consumers and advertisers know whether a digital ad is environmentally friendly. The Green Ad Tag is a 1x1 tracking pixel that measures in real-time the data transmission of a digital ad so that businesses can see and offset their carbon expenditures.
There is also a browser app, Tabs for Good, that enables consumers to empower donations to a charity of their choosing by opening browser tabs. Like the ad-based model, the idea is to enable people to collectively work together to instigate larger change.
"Our mission is not to help businesses to be squeaky clean and brilliant," Williams said. "But where we can help them quantify the benefits of doing good, and we can show them that they invested in an underrepresented community and it developed a 60% increase in brand love, maybe they’ll look at other places to do good."
Ultimately, this work leads to a stronger consumer-brand relationship, Williams said.
"Brand purpose isn’t about your brand," she said. "Brand purpose is about helping consumers express themselves and providing a vehicle to feel like they did good. It's about your relationship with the consumer. Standing on a soapbox and saying, 'Aren't we great,' isn't doing anything for that relationship."
Good-Loop's investors think the company's approach could help solve some of the problems that have been dogging digital advertising.
"[Good-Loop's] business model solves many long standing issues in the sector and is the paradigm shift needed to regain consumer trust in transparent and ethical advertising," said Austin Davis, CEO of mission-driven Quaesus Capital Management in a release announcing the recent funding round.
Ultimately, the goal is to build a business that helps people harness the internet to make the world a better place – individually, collectively and through their brand relationships – particularly as the world begins to build the next generation of the web and expand into the metaverse.
"I'm focusing on building Good-Loop to be a suite of products that make it really really easy for everyone to do good," Williams said. "There's a lot that's wrong with the internet, but there's a significant change on the horizon. And the rules haven't been made yet."