Unilever trials ad formats that give to charity if someone watches

The charity will then receive 50% of the revenue with the rest going to the publisher and Good-Loop as income

Unilever brand Knorr is testing a new video ad format that allows viewers to choose a charity to benefit from the revenue it derives if they view an ad for at least 15 seconds.

The technology was built by Good-Loop, which describes itself as an “ethical online video advertising platform seeking to fix the problems experienced in ad tech."

The partnership with Knorr was forged though the Unilever Foundry, the FMCG company’s start-up platform.

The month-long trial will see Knorr in-article video ads for its Chicken Stock Pot’s and Beef Concentrated Stock ranges run with a message indicating that if someone watches until the end, they can choose to donate (free of charge) to one of three charities - The People’s Kitchen, The Trussell Trust or WaterAid.

The charity will then receive 50% of the ad revenue with the rest going to the publisher and Good-Loop as income.

Jonathan Hammond – who heads up Unilever Foundry – told The Drum that connecting charity donations to digital advertising was a space it hadn’t explored due to the lack of scalable tech solutions, but one that it began to look into it last year after meeting Good-Loop founder Amy Williams.

“We found an opportunity with Knorr, which already had video advertising out there. That was the key thing – to find a [Unilever] brand with ads already out that we could test this method against the regular way we do video advertising," said Hammond.

For Knorr, the cost-per-play for each ad is lower versus a standard video ad. Already, it claimed to be seeing a rise in engagement rates, completion rates and click-through rates versus a normal video ad campaign, though Hammond declined to go into specific metrics.

“The important thing is that the format doesn’t add any other metrics in that we wouldn’t have already been looking at already. So, the good thing is we have a strong heritage in this space and understand what good looks like so we have a testbed for comparison,” he said.

Publishers will earn less per ad than they would a standard video ad format, but those that have already signed up to the Good-Loop model include the Guardian and Stylist among a number of other “close knit” premium publishers.

It comes after a recent landmark speech by Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed, who pledged to sever ties with digital platforms it deemed unethical alondisge a wider call for the digital media landscape to clean up its act as it seeks a better, common, standard for viewability, verification and value of its digital media buys.

Hammond stressed that although the partnership with Good-Loop is still in its infancy, meaning it’s unable to demonstrate how it could benefit Weed’s so-called 3V’s objectives, the potential for it to be rolled out across other brands is “huge”.

“It’s the first pilot we’re running and from our point of view there’s huge opportunity to scale this across other brands. It’s wait and see at the moment.”

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