Episode 84: The positive impact of advertising with Good Loop
- 26 October 2023
The secrets of commercial marketing with social benefit
This podcast will:
- Show how to deliver ESG benefit while making money
- Identify the challenges associated with launching a socially beneficial business
- Explore the trade secrets of turning your ideas into reality
Sophie Peterson 00:03
Welcome to the CIM Marketing Podcast. The contents and views expressed by individuals in the CIM Marketing Podcast are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the companies they work for. We hope you enjoy the episode.
Ben Walker 00:17
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the CIM Marketing Podcast. And today we are going to be discussing about how we can do more good when we're going out into business in order to make money and do good with it. And we've got a fantastic guest with us today's Miss Amy Williams, who is chief executive and founder of Good Loop. Amy, how are you today?
Amy Williams 00:39
Hi, I'm good thank you! What a fabulous intro.
Ben Walker 00:42
You're joining us from New York of all places only. What are you there for?
Amy Williams 00:47
I moved here in January to launch our US office. And it's been it's been a wild ride. It's a fun city.
Ben Walker 00:54
Do you miss England much?
Amy Williams 00:57
I do you know, I am actually going back next week and I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be only my second time back since I moved. I miss more than anything, I miss the tea. Oh the tea...
Ben Walker 01:09
You think they would have something about that now?
Amy Williams 01:12
It's like, New York is the city of plenty. And yet still the tea tastes like nats piss.
Ben Walker 01:17
Yeah, that's, there's a niche there for somebody who wants to do something about it. And so I hope they'll do something. Yeah, I hope so. Hope so. I know what you mean, by the way, I know you mean, you do miss it when you're out there. Good Loop, it is not your ordinary business, is it? What is it?
Amy Williams 01:36
So we help big brands do good. We help brands do good and easy and scalable ways. And we have a suite of different products that basically connect a brand with a cause and then help kind of use that to drive business results. So a great example, let's say, let's say you're on the New York Times, and you're going to watch a video, Good Loop will buy that ad slot before the video. And you can skip it, there'll be a skip button, you can press skip at any time. But if you don't, if you choose to sit on your hands and not press that tempting skip button, you unlock a donation funded by the advertiser, and you get to choose the cause or the charity that it goes to. So simply by giving a little bit of your precious time and attention, you get to do good for free. In exchange, the advertiser gets much higher engagement rates on their ad, they get much fewer people pressing that skip button. And of course, it's an active view you've chosen to watch. So it's a much more positive and respectful ad experience. It's just about doing good at scale, really doing good and really easy ways.
Ben Walker 02:44
So let me get this straight in my head. So that pops up in front of me, it can be an ad, theoretically for anything. But by agreeing and I take a proactive decision to watch it. If I get through to the end of that I hadn't, I don't know how long these ads are presumably 60 seconds, 80 seconds, 90 seconds, something of that order. I get to then choose a micro donation goes to a charity that I can choose from there's there's several charities that I can choose from, and I get to choose which one is that right?
Amy Williams 03:13
That's exactly it. And we'll work with the brand to curate that list of charities so it's really relevant to the brand, you know, that we want the causes to be really aligned to the brand purpose really authentic for that business. So there'll be a selection of causes, but it will be a curated list based on the brand.
Ben Walker 03:30
Give me an example of alinged donation to a brand.
Amy Williams 03:33
Okay, I have a personal favourite one recently, which is the brand Vanish to the racquet brand. And it's a pretty boring product, right? It's a stain remover. It's not it's not a it's not going to light the world on fire. But it's a very iconic brand. It's got that big powerful pink it's got you know that that's an amazing brand recognition and Vanish did a lot of research into the role of clothes in different people's lives. And they came across this fantastic insight that 73% of autistic people rely on their clothes to help regulate their emotions and their senses. For people with autism, their clothes are a really important part of how they create a sense of security and create a sense of calm. So this beautiful insight and you know, the fact that Vanish is all about protecting clothes, helping them last longer, giving your clothes kind of longer life. So that insight created this fantastic alignment between Vanish and Ambitious About Autiusm, which is a fantastic charity that work with the Autistic community with people on various stages of the spectrum to help them adapt live brilliant, full lives, find opportunity, and, and all those sorts of things. So that was a great example of it's very clear why the brand is acting in this space. It's very clear why the product aligns, but then it's a bigger more ambitious, more beautiful story than just stain removal.
Ben Walker 05:02
So I'm, I'm getting a triple benefit here, then this is why I'm quite liking about this model is I'm getting a benefit for the consumer, the viewer, because he or she gets to make a donation at the end of watching an ad, which let's be honest, most people don't watch ads for leisure. But this gives us a real benefit at the end, we get a benefit, obviously, for your business, because you've got a USP and really interesting model, which is a different way of advertising a different way of marketing and goods. But there's also an additional benefit is there not for the brands, in terms of better engagement, they get alignment but also get a better engagement as well. Is that right?
Amy Williams 05:40
That's exactly it. I mean, a great example, we work with the PepsiCo brand Doritos. And they have this fantastic brand platform called solid black. And it's all about celebrating and amplifying black culture. It's a really, really beautiful campaign. They created this video at the heart of the campaign is gorgeous video, that sort of is a manifesto to that mission. And they put it out on the internet. And obviously, the goal is get people to watch it. They know that ad drives engagement, they know that ad is going to drive purchase, they've researched it to death, of course. So all we need to help them do is just get as many people as possible to watch the ad. So we ran it in a watch to donate format. If you don't skip, you unlock a donation. And then we curated the list of charities to be kind of local grassroots changemakers working in the black community. And we saw 80% of people complete the video. So 80% of people chose not to skip and complete the video. So that's, you know, to your point, it's just that really lovely sort of double benefit.
Ben Walker 06:43
I made it a triple for the consumer, as well, because he or she gets to choose whether with a charitable donation gets - I made it a triple benefit. What sorts of amounts of money are we talking about that you raise for these charities through this model then?
Amy Williams 06:59
So I started Good Loop in 2017. And so over the past seven years, we've raised just shy of $8 million. Actually, I think we've already passed 8 million. Yeah, so we've raised about 8 million dollars for all sorts of charities. And really, it is all sorts, it's, you know, turtle nests, mapping projects with the WWF. Its human rights campaigns with Amnesty International. It's tree planting at The Nature Conservancy like, you name it. I mean, we've worked with, I think, 350 charities at this point. And that's one of the things I'm really proud of actually, because, you know, for the charities, if we want to add a fourth benefit. The corporate partners are such a big part of how they fundraise and how they, they support themselves, the corporate partnerships that they have, often what I see is that it's really hard for them to activate it. A great example is Tesco have a big, big partnership with Cancer Research, but it mainly manifests as like, you know, run for life and shaking buckets in store, maybe a maybe a collection. So it's very, it's very archaic, the tools that a corporate has to support a charity. And so this has been a really nice thing to engage on the charity side to help them elevate and amplify the fantastic corporate partnerships that they have.
Ben Walker 08:18
Is there any theme to the charities that you work with is there any sort of sort of umbrella that one could put over them that links them all together?
Amy Williams 08:27
I definitely say there are some interesting sort of geographical themes. So for example, in the UK, our most common theme is sort of conservation, or some sort of charity that's sort of focused on the planet, the environmental awareness of the UK consumer is very high and and across Europe, actually. Whereas in the US, I would say the number one thing we get asked about and we work on is diversity and inclusion. And actually the awareness of like racial tensions and the importance of equity and civil rights. That's something that's much higher in the in the American psyche. So it's really interesting to see how these sorts of changes in the geography affect how brands sort of want to lean into different issues.
Sophie Peterson 09:17
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Ben Walker 09:30
Would you consider any charity that's doing a good cause? Do you see those sorts of areas of diversity and planet so ESG I suppose broadly, you could catch them as sort of your metier or would you consider working with other sorts of charities?
Amy Williams 09:45
Well, yeah, we do all sorts. I mean, globally, our biggest sector is health. I mean, that Ambitious About Autism is a great example of that. So yeah, we do all sorts. So it's a it's an open church.
Ben Walker 09:58
How'd you get into it?
Amy Williams 10:00
Well, I've always worked in advertising and I've always loved it. Advertising is the most fabulous industry in the world. It's got creativity and interesting business problems and that intersection of the two is, I think, pretty unique. I've always loved this industry, I've always wanted to do something I'm proud of, and build something, you know, that I feel will leave the world a little bit better than I found it. And Good Loop came about... basically, I quit my job. I was working at Ogilvy and I quit my job, in a on a bit on a little bit of an impulse didn't really have a plan. And I ended up in Argentina, I ended up travelling a bit, I did a course in entrepreneurship in Chile, obviously. And then I ended up in Argentina at this Commodore which is it's like a soup kitchen but just for kids under 15. And I was just, you know, I could barely string together a sentence in Spanish. So I was mainly just pot wash. But, but I had an amazing time there. And one of the things that really struck me about it was their capacity to do good with so little, you know, that weekly budget was $10. And that $10 would would feed 40 kids for a week, you know, and you think all you can feed 40 kids for a tenner. And I just quit a job where we were spending multiple millions of dollars every day on eyeballs, eyeballs on the internet. And I think that discrepancy between, you know, the half a trillion dollars sloshing around in Mark Zuckerberg's pocket to the $10 that can feed 40 kids, it felt like you don't have to tap into much of our industry to do a lot of good because our industry is so big and so influential.
Ben Walker 11:43
It's interesting, a couple of things there is that you can do quite a lot with a little if you put it in the right areas. How do you get a multiplier effect? You know, if you're starting off with this funding, how can you make that create wealth elsewhere? And really interesting, isn't it? How organisations you've cited, managed to get that sort of multiplier effect get an enhanced effect from starting off with quite a small seed. You must have had some challenges, though, when you're trying to go out with this. It is very innovative. It's very novel, you musta hit some bumps in the road.
Amy Williams 12:15
Oh, yeah, a couple. I think starting out, the big challenge was trying to get this balance between the social mission and the business benefits. And it's a lesson I constantly have to keep learning is to be quite disciplined with myself. The reason I love my business isn't the reason a customer is going to buy our product, they are different things. And that, especially as a founder, it is quite hard to get your head around. I constantly go into meetings, and we'll just talk for hours about the amazing turtle nest mapping projects that we just funded and why we've helped that brand do good. And I'm talking to media planners and buyers, you know sat with a budget and KPIs and a client brief going well, this doesn't fit in my business plan. This isn't answering any of my objectives. It's a lovely meeting, Amy's made me feel warm and fuzzy. And so I'm not going to give her any money. And even if they do, they're not going to buy it twice. If you can't articulate why it helped move the needle for their business, that's the thing I have to constantly come back to is the business benefit of doing good, not the emotional benefit. So I often struggle with that balance. You know, for example, with my sales team, the charitable donations, and the social impact is our USP it is our differentiator. And so it's crazy to not talk about it. If we just went in and talked about video completed view rates we'd sound like every other vendor. So we have to talk about it. But it's just trying to make sure you don't you don't lose the reason why the benefit versus the how, you know,
Ben Walker 13:51
That is fascinating is each of you sort of had to become a little bit more hard edge while still reminding yourself that you've got this differentiation. It's interesting what you were saying just now because it doesn't do you much good to keep emphasising the ESG benefit of doing business. What you're trying to do instead is to emphasise the business benefit, the commercial benefit of doing the ESG.
Amy Williams 14:16
That's exactly right. That's exactly right. And actually, it's the thing I'm most passionate about. I mean, I love working with the charities I love, you know that we've given a load of money, but really, for me that the thing that's really interesting about Good Loop is that our entire existence is about proving the ROI of doing good. That's what I want to be known for. You know, that's the thing I want to have hanging on my wall at the end of the day. That's the thing I want I want to achieve.
Ben Walker 14:47
That's a great sort of core strategy for the businesses for the b2b part of the strategy for the b2c part of the strategy. How are you getting consumers to hang on to your ads longer, what is it about them that makes them hang on. So they can get to that point at the end where they can distribute the money.
Amy Williams 15:05
So we have a couple of different engagement mechanics. So we have watched to donate, which we've talked about, which is about not skipping. And in that example, we have a little countdown timer. And we combine that with some padlocks, it's very visual language that sort of immediately communicate, wait for this amount of time for these things to unlock. So that's been something we've really refined over the years, then we have listened to donate in partnership with Spotify, we have scan to donate, which is our TV format, we have swipe up to donate on Instagram stories. So there's lots of different ways you can unlock the donation. But it's really about creating that dopamine hit, you know, that moment where you, you will get the reward, you get to do good. And then you get to choose the charity.
Ben Walker 15:50
You make it sounds so simple, Amy, do all of us getting to sort of one sitting here thinking, But why doesn't everybody do this? Why doesn't everybody come up with a business model, an idea, which has commercial benefit, which has engagement benefit, which has charitable or ESG benefit? If it's so simple as Amy Williams is telling us? Why aren't we all doing it?
Amy Williams 16:11
We'll all be a little bit grayer at the end of it. But yeah, I mean, I do think that, you know, today, you can't really build a business without a mission. Like, when you look at all of the big brands in the world, it's very, very rare that you find a brand that doesn't stand for something, you know, we expect businesses to step up, we are citizens as well as consumers, we expect businesses to support us through the pandemic, or pull out of Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, like there are there is this constant bleeding between the commercial world and our society. So it's sort of unacceptable to not I'd say,
Ben Walker 16:49
Is that enough, is that enough to persuade more and more businesses to do it? Do you think?
Amy Williams 16:53
Well, there's lots of different factors like ESG, you mentioned just before, that sort of ESG framework is increasingly becoming something shareholders are expecting to see. So that's another sort of interesting push from sort of top down, you these organisations, not only are consumers demanding it, but shareholders I mean, something like $30 trillion, are in some way linked to ESG investment. And there's 3 trillion just in ESG funds. There's a lot of money sloshing around if you can justify and measure and be accountable to your social goals. There's a lot of money in it.
Ben Walker 17:29
There is I mean, do you think that the industry's - marketing and advertising specifically, can either consciously or subconsciously put barriers in the way to this sort of stuff? Are they built, are they structured in such a way that makes this sort of combined commerce and ESG thinking viable?
Amy Williams 17:48
Interesting. I mean, I do struggle a bit sometimes with that. I worry, that's the case. Sometimes. I certainly, you know, advertising is built on consumption. And our traditional model of consumption is terrible for the planet. Terrible, it's unsustainable, in a very real sense, it just, it cannot go on. And so I do sometimes have these moments of just worrying that our industry and our framework of consumption isn't going to be able to evolve quick enough, and isn't going to be able to keep up with this new world we have to create. But then there are examples where you advertising can reframe some of the Eco living decisions, like a great example is Burger King. So in in multiple markets, Burger King sort of flipped their menu. So if you ordered a whopper, then you you bought default got the beyond burger, the vegan meat alternative for...
Ben Walker 18:51
I should say this, I should say, there are other brands of burgers, I'm vegan burgers available, but Beyond Burger is an extraordinary product. I mean, I'm sure that many other extraordinary vector vegan products, but the taste profile of it is quite extraordinary. So I'm interested to hear this anecdote.
Amy Williams 19:08
This is the thing you know, advertising isn't a magic bullet. But once the product is good, well advertising can do is architect desire around the product and create a new behaviour. So yeah, so if you if you wanted a beef burger, you have to specifically ask for the meat. So it, you know, it just slightly changes the decision and takes meat off the default, which I think is really, really interesting. Another example is, let's say Airbnb. You two great example of the sharing economy. You don't need to own a house in Paris, let's say you can borrow someone else's. And that's created just as much advertising just as much revenue for marketers just as much revenue for shareholders, but it's not about a single straight line consumption. It's about a closed loop. It's a circular consumption.
Ben Walker 19:59
It's interesting more you been saying this, I've been thinking about that word consumption and consumer, it, it sort of prompts ideas of taking away or, you know, destroying, whereas, whereas a lot of what we're trying to sell nowadays actually is sharing or borrowing or utilising something, isn't it? And perhaps, you know, the way that the industries are reshaping, but perhaps sometimes slower than some of us would like them, because their provenance comes from this idea of consumerism, consuming stuff, rather than utilising things sharing and borrowing things.
Amy Williams 20:32
Yeah. But that's, that's the potential our industry has, if we really put our minds to it, advertising is the industry that could change that. You know, I mean, you look at the rates of death through lung cancer after cigarette companies were stopped from being able to advertise, it jumped off a cliff, with within the course of five years, the rates of lung cancer in the US, it almost went to zero, from from cigarette use, the graph is astounding to look at. And it's a scary graph, really, when you think about it, because it shows you how much power advertising has. But it also shows you how much power we have, like, we can use that to kind of reshape how we think about consumption.
Ben Walker 21:13
Now we've got power in our hands, it's an important message. Amy, we've got lots of people listening to this today will be thinking I want to try do something like goodly but I want to do a business that makes money and does good. Can you share some insights and secret tips, three tips, if you like, of what people who want to go into this sort of thing should be looking to do?
Amy Williams 21:36
Well, the first thing I always say, if anyone wants to start a business is just start talking about it. I've met so many people that say, Oh, I've got an idea, but I can't tell you yet. I get it right you don't you don't you know, you don't necessarily feel ready to put it out in the world. Maybe you don't have the words yet. You know, maybe you don't want people to, to copy it.
Ben Walker 21:57
Well, that's gonna say people are fearful that it's gonna be stolen, aren't they? That's why they don't like to vocalise it.
Amy Williams 22:03
Do you know Do you know the secret though, the secret, unspoken reality under that no one gives a shit about your idea. Everybody's thinking about their own idea, or honestly, the amount of energy and effort and love you need in order to get an idea to reality. Only you have that for your idea no one else does. I think it underestimates How hard is going to be to think that someone could just copy it. So anyway, I would say start talking to people, because the minute I started, I started buying people coffees and saying, Look, I'll just take you for a coffee, I just want to tell you about this thing I'm thinking about. And you know, I've developed a pretty healthy caffeine addiction, but I got so much good advice from those sessions. And at the end of every coffee, you always say one question, who else should I speak to? And so each coffee, you get one new introduction, and then one new introduction. And within six months, you've built this amazing, incredible network. And I guess that's my second piece of advice is, as a founder, your network is your value. You the people, you know, the relationships, you build the trust that people have in you, because your product is probably going to be rubbish for the first couple of years. And like, you know, it'll go wrong, and things won't work and, and if you've got people that trust you and back you, so thinking about, really consciously and intentionally building a network is crucial. And then I guess the final one, my third piece of advice is really invest in storytelling, right, storytelling is easy to dismiss. But if you have a good story, and if it's a social business, if it's a business with a mission, or a purpose, or some sort of impact, then this story will be easy to write. If you have a story that inspires people, and that gives people a way to see how they can be a part of your story, how they could be in the next chapter. Then it's like a gravity it pulls people in it pulls in investors, it pulls in talent, it pulls in customers, your story is the thing that will create momentum and create a gravity around your business.
Ben Walker 24:12
So what did you do when you when you you had this brainchild? It's somewhere inside you in your head somewhere all those years ago 2016 2015 when you were thinking about it, you then started to talk about it. You weren't so concerned that people were going to nick it you actually said I'm just going to tell everybody about this I want to speak to when you got to the point where you thought you know what this could be real. What was the story that you told to people because people have - most famously short attention spans, you know, if you're unable to tell that story quickly and easily and succinctly in a few seconds. They will switch off and listen to somebody else's story. What was the story you were telling them?
Amy Williams 24:52
Well, it's not one story. That's the thing. It's like, it's like a Lego set. I've got different elements I have a story. And depending on the context, I'll use different Lego bricks. So I've told you earlier about when I was in Argentina, and I saw them how much good they could do with so little. That's one Lego brick. That's one piece. Then I've got another bit of the story that's about my time at Ogilvy and some of the clients I worked on and how that inspired me because they were brands that were doing good and becoming very, very successful because of it. That's another Lego brick. And that one I didn't use today. But in a client meeting that one I might maybe use instead of the Argentina bit. So like, it's not like it's one story. It's like a patchwork. And I think that the true art of storytelling is crafting in the moment the best combination.
Ben Walker 25:41
Yeah, it's interesting. When did you think it's this is all going to click, you must have had a moment where you thought that it had gone from a sort of desire, a dream? To a reality? When did you realise it was a reality?
Amy Williams 25:53
I mean you eat an elephant in chunks? Don't you like it? I feel like that the frog that doesn't realise it's getting boiled alive. You look back and you go, Oh, your business, I guess there's so many little milestones like the first time I got investment. Quite early in the journey, we were accepted onto an accelerator programme called collider. That's a they focus specifically on advertising startups. So it was this brilliant network of X advertising people, you know, that made their money and wanted to be angels and wanted to support the industry. So that that was a moment where it really started to feel real because it had other people believing in it. You know, another big milestone is the first client, or the first time you see one of your ads in the world, like actually, on an ad on a on a web page, I'll never forget that moment. Or the first person I hired. That felt very, very significant. So there's, there's so many wonderful little milestones. And I guess, psychologically, as you're building a business, the risk can be overwhelming the risk, the fear, the the uncertainty, and for me, the coping mechanism was to always focus on that next little milestone, it won't have been a waste. If I achieve this, it won't be so bad. If I achieve that. Even if I fail. Now I know I've achieved this. So just constantly trying to think about little milestones. It's like an elephant in chunks.
Ben Walker 27:22
You need to know for the chunks, and it's there now and the fantastic business, it is very inspiring. I've got an elephant, you've got a full one fully ground floor complete elephant and it's fantastic. It's fantastic. It's also been fantastic having you on the show Amy's been very inspiring listen, and a conversation with you, not just for me, but I'm sure all of our audience out there will be thinking about whether they can do something similar, and try to do some good while doing business in the order that you frame it. My own other questions, before I let you go is will you come back on the show, perhaps on a panel because it's been great to hear from you. We'd love to do more along these sorts of lines in future.
Amy Williams 28:00
Yeah I'd love to thank you. Honestly, it's been so so lovely to chat. And it's really nice to be able to tell my story.
Ben Walker 28:06
Oh, it's been great hearing your story. That's Amy Williams, who is chief executive and founder of Good Loop. Thank you very much, Amy. We'll see you again on the podcast. I hope someday very soon.
Amy Williams 28:16
Well, thank you so much. Bye!
Sophie Peterson 28:19
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