Good-Loop: On “treating people as partners, not targets”

Last November, we headed to Edinburgh’s Rose Street to interview Daniel Winterstein, Director & CTO of Good-Loop – an “ethical programmatic video advertising platform” who deliver “the right message to the right viewer, in a revolutionary way”. If viewers choose to watch their advertisements for 15 seconds or more, they can donate half the price of that ad to a charity of their choice.

They have an have worked with brands such as Knorr, KitKat, Canon and Persil, but most importantly, each month they raise approximately £50,000 for good causes.

We spoke to Daniel about what it means it means to be a “disruptive’’ and impactful business, about the effect of modern technology on the way business is done, and about why the distinction between being values-based rather than value-based is significant. The full interview can be read below:

1. Enabling businesses to have a positive social and environmental impact is the driving force behind Scotland Can B. What does impact mean to Good-Loop and what effect does being impactful have on the way that your company works?

We use advertiser money to solve real problems – impact is core. For example, a recent campaign for TOMS funded 888 nights of accommodation for young homeless people, helped fund social entrepreneurship schemes, and supported 80 families in poverty with essential ingredients and food items for a year.

The advertising industry has a strong focus on measuring effects. We add measuring impact to that, reporting to clients on the good they’re funding, as well as the usual business metrics.

I’d like to see measuring social and environmental impact become part of how all businesses operate.

2. You’ve been labelled as a ‘disruptor’ company in the press by sources such as the Guardian.  In your opinion, what tools are necessary to move away from traditional business models and why should mainstream businesses be concerned with this change?

The most disruptive forces in modern business are the internet and AI. These are changing the basic nature of how companies work, and the relationship between customer and company. Used for ill, they can make people unemployed and manipulate people. But they can also be used positively to inform people and empower them. The challenge for business and society is to harness these disruptive powers for good. In our case, that means treating people as partners, not targets.

I think the future of advertising should be honest communication between brands and customers, boosted by technology.

In terms of mainstream business, technology is changing the way people shop, with consumers much more able to shop-around — comparing prices online or using giant digital marketplaces like E-Bay and Amazon. This has a huge impact on brands and manufacturers. To preserve some profit margin, and to avoid the costs of customer churn, companies now have to build positive relationships with the user. This should help drive more ethical behaviour from companies.

3. You’ve worked with huge corporations such as Nestle’s Kit-Kat and Unilever’s Knorr. What would you say is the appeal of socially motivated organisations to these multinational companies?

The big corporations that we work with such as Unilever – they see that it’s good business sense to have an ethical purpose.

For example, Dove, who is a Unilever brand, has a mission around positive self-esteem for all women — saying beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and you can be beautiful however you are. That is a much better message than “buy some soap”, and it leads to people buying more Dove soap. So being ethical works for these brands.

Another example would be the ads we ran for Persil on the theme of “kids should get outside and have fun!” They’re promoting a healthy active lifestyle, which also happens to sell washing powder. This is a new positive approach to advertising. Persil is encouraging behaviour, aligned with their product, that’s good for the customer. You can watch their add here.

4. We see a growing global trend of more conscious capitalism, of organisations taking into account the possibility of using business as a vehicle beyond profit and as a force for good. Who would you say are the key actors adopting this new model and are there any organisations in the Scottish business network who have motivated or inspired Good Loop?

I see conscious capitalism growing at both ends of the business spectrum. There’s a groundswell of new companies with a focus on positive business models. At the other end of the scale, big brands like Unilever are seeing that having a positive social mission is the best way for them to make a sustainable profit. Regarding companies that motivated Good-Loop — I might mention Ecosia (a search engine that funds tree planting), PlayMob (raising money for charity via games), or here in Scotland, Social Bite.

5. Do you think being value-based has enabled you to stand out against mainstream advertising companies?

Absolutely – it helps us to stand out from the crowd. At the end of the day, our clients are paying for the service — we’re selling quality advertising, and the reason we get repeat sales, is because what we do delivers results. But the positive way our service works, and the extra value to the community that our clients generate — people like it. Many people have been very helpful, and that has helped us to successfully grow the company. Moreover, our adverts increase the key metric of completed views from an average of 45% to 80%, yet they cost about the same as normal online video ads, and half the money to good causes! We serve 1.6 million ad impressions a month (and growing), and raise £50,000 a month for good causes, so it’s a win, win.

6. Lastly, a large part of our work is to incorporate mainstream business into the value-based ecosystem. What role or trends do you expect to see from the mainstream in the coming years?

I think we’ll see the mainstream dividing more into those businesses on one side who embrace responsible capitalism, versus those that opt for a more short-term race-to-the-bottom approach. I think it will take time, but we’ll see the sustainable responsible approach winning through.

Our mission in Good-Loop is to end manipulative one-sided advertising, replacing it with a fairer model — and for that to become the new normal.

To find out more about Good-Loop and to donate through their ads, head to their website. You can also follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook and Youtube!

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