xAd tackles domestic abuse in its challenge for Do It Day in the US
Leading location-based marketing company xAd is using its location technology for good for The Drum’s Do It Day on November 10. The company is looking to change the world by building a mobile phone app that can be a lifesaving resource to domestically abused women and children, specifically for New York City, but hopefully one that can expand to other metropolitan areas.
The app will look like any other on the phone, but when activated, can trigger a call to local emergency response and give victims locations to the nearest shelters and other refuge options. Additionally, New York City-based xAd endeavors to create a PSA-like mobile campaign for the app that feels grassroots and can go viral, helping the many women and children affected by domestic abuse.
The ambitious project is one of several challenges for the second Do It Day, an opportunity for industry professionals at every level to help make marketing a force for good, and change the world in 24 hours. The first phase, Plan It Day on October 13th, will lay the groundwork for executing the xAd challenge.
The people at xAd saw a need for an app like the one they are developing because in New York City there has been a strident increase in incidence of domestic abuse and homicides from domestic abuse. In 2015, there were almost 280,000 incidences of domestic abuse, according to the New York City’s mayor’s office to combat domestic violence.
“What's even sadder, which is where we saw the need for this tool, is that there were only 85,000 calls into the hotline for domestic abuse but there were only just under 7,000 requests for shelter,” said Julie Sharma, charity ambassador at xAd. “A very small percentage of people who actually needed to go to the shelter actually requested it. Our thought is, is it just because hotlines aren't something nowadays people think of because we're so connected to mobile apps? "
Sharma’s thought was that they needed to create something more natural for the women who suffer from domestic abuse to find shelter, and with its refined location technologies, xAd was a natural fit to be the one to develop this app.
“When we started hearing about domestic abuses on the rise in New York and being a New York-based company that's something we're passionate about. We just felt it was something that we could actually be a big part of and we would love to help and give back to our home community,” said Sharma.
The impressive project by xAd isn’t the only corporate social responsibility initiative it has addressed. It is working with FIA (Federal Internet Alerts) and the National Center Missing and Exploited Children for the Amber Alert program using location technologies, with Goodwill Industries on increasing traffic to its donation centers, the Shelter Pet Project to increase adoption awareness, and with Thrive, a campaign that works with markets to increase awareness about food deserts.
It also worked with Oxfam America to increase donations to the Nepal earthquake relief efforts, using the company’s Location Verification Technology to drive donations resulting in one-thousand families receiving aid in one week. As well as a holiday program “Unwrapped” driving site traffic for gift purchases and charitable donations. The result was a 6.5 per cent increase in total donations, a 7 per cent increase in first time donors and a 13 per cent increase in mobile revenue share year over year.
Making this app for the victims of domestic abuse is something the team really hopes hits the mark, because the subject of domestic abuse is a touchy one and the people involved are in constant danger from their abusers.
“The advice that I would give to the people who are working on this [Do It Day] challenge is to make sure that the user interface and the marketing campaign is done in a very strategic way because domestic abusers seek out ways that their partner can get away from them. This app has to be concealed. It has to be on their phone in a way that that person can't find it,” said Sharma, who also noted that the grassroots campaign must be subtle as well so abusers aren’t made aware, making the app obsolete.
“People can download the app and choose from ten different icons where that app can look like something else that they know their partner will never even bother with. Perhaps he is repulsed by shopping or he doesn't like animals — so maybe it’s a dog walking app or cat videos. [The Do It Day teams] really have to be creative and really think about in that moment, how do we get away from that possibility that the abuser can find it and get even more inflamed or delete it or get rid of the phone, heaven forbid,” Sharma added.
Sharma said that getting the app made is a main focus of Do It Day, and once that's done, they can reiterate it for many different purposes. She noted that issues like teenage school bullying, male domestic abuse, racial tension and abuse in the LGBT community could benefit from this critical first step.
“We’re just laying down the foundation. There's so many different ways that we can build an app to help people find shelter or get help to them. I don't want to stop at just domestically abused women. To me, success is we make this app work for so many different people,” she said.
Sharma wants the Do It Day challenge “to make sure that we use our tech, or our people, or our passion to make it an awesome initiative.”
Undoubtedly, with that combination of passion and technology, the team at xAd, and the dedicated team at Do It Day, should see it through to success.
Additional reporting by Doug Zanger.
Earlier this year, Do It Day was named ‘Event of the Year’ at the British Media Awards. Watch The Drum’s Do It Day documentary here.
To find out more information about this year’s Do It Day, including how to participate in both Plan It Day and Do It Day in the US, see our official website. To secure tickets for this year’s Plan It Day and Do It Day, contact Alysha Parker.
Plan It Day UK took place last week in London with challenges set by Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Amnesty International and many other brand partners. The outcome of the challenges can be found in the overview of the day.