By Adam Met
When was the last time you didn’t skip an ad before a YouTube video? And when was the last time you watched a video all the way to the end? What would it take to keep you engaged?
In an era when endless streams of digital content are competing for our attention, an individual’s time is a valuable currency.
Borrowing from my musical career, AJR’s goal is to make songs, create shows, post social media content that is more pleasurable than that of the next artist. Or more binge-worthy than Netflix, more satisfying than the McRib (or the Beyond McRib), or cuter than Baby Yoda. We continue to challenge ourselves to create something that will hold people’s attention; the audience’s time is the real value, and money is a byproduct.
If we view a person’s attention and time as the source of real value, then we should offer something in return for their time. How about a commitment to making the world a better place?
Think about it: What if you knew that if you watched a video all the way through, a child in Haiti would be given a full year’s worth of school supplies? What if, in return for you watching a complete video, a family in Uganda would have clean drinking water for a month? Would you watch? If watching the entirety of a 30-second ad at the start of a YouTube video guaranteed that a koala would be saved from the Australian bush fires, or a pound of plastic is removed from the ocean and recycled, would you skip it? Perhaps not.
This opens the doors to an entirely new approach to global progress: baking social good into the business of digital content. Everyone wins: You, the viewer, are happy knowing that your time was truly well spent. The advertiser is happy because they know you watched their advertisement. And a sea turtle is happy because his waters are a little cleaner.
It’s mutually beneficial marketing, a new frontier in social advertising. Advertisers have a real incentive to do this: Millennials and Gen Z believe it is important to purchase from companies that take social responsibility.
I’m putting this model to the test with the United Nations’ Global Goals. Seven celebrity activists took on seven causes with seven different creative storytelling techniques: music, dance, comedy, sports, and even juggling. Through their own unique storytelling style and talents, each artist reaches thousands of people across multiple platforms. For every viewer who watches any of these videos all the way to the end, we’ll donate $1 to a range of sustainable charities.
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This idea is not, obviously, the one and only way to use social media to drive global good. But it is at least one viable solution for taking action in a new way, adapting digital media to the evolving behaviors and preferences of an audience who cares about creating a just and better world,
Our time is valuable and we only have limited amounts of it. So let’s not just spend it wisely, but also invest it in the future.
Adam Met is a member of the band AJR, Executive Director of Sustainable Partners, Inc., and a United Nations Development Programme Advocate.
The UNDP is a Mashable partner.
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