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    Cause-driven social platform sees buy-in from Heineken, Nike, others

    • WeAre8, a new cause-driven social media platform that rewards users for watching ads, launched its self-service ads manager, called SAM-i, per news shared in an email with Marketing Dive. Heineken, Nike and Mondelēz are among the brands that have run ads on the app.
    • WeAre8 encourages people to spend eight minutes per day watching content in a scrolling feed of images and videos. Ads are opt-in, but viewing them for two minutes daily earns payouts, with the ability to put those earnings toward charitable causes.  
    • WeAre8 serves campaigns through SAM-i, which also provides analytics and tracks how much money is directed to charities. The concept tries to match a consent-enabled ad model with marketers’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) needs. 

    WeAre8, which was founded by entrepreneur Sue Fennessy, has an ambitious plan to build a more purposeful social media platform amid a barrage of criticism for the tech category. The new ads manager, SAM-i, appears a crucial part of that agenda, allowing brands to more easily get campaigns off the ground and see whether their efforts are spurring users to pay it forward. 

    While WeAre8’s model isn’t proven at scale yet, it’s already signed on some major brands, speaking to a desire among marketers to find alternatives to established social media heavyweights. Heineken, Budweiser, eBay, Mondelēz, Nike and Nando’s are some of the names that might be familiar to U.S. consumers. 

    The rewards-based advertising structure ensures ads are viewable, with WeAre8 promising a guaranteed 10% minimum click-through rate to brands. SAM-i — short for Sustainable Ad Manager – intelligent — has achieved an average click-through rate of 30%, WeAre8 said in a press release. The ads manager has been fully audited by PwC

    “We’ve run three campaigns already with WeAre8, through their sustainable ad manager SAM-i, and the performance results we are seeing are truly groundbreaking, delivering double the 10% guaranteed [click-through rates],” said Jimmy Hughes, social media lead at Heineken, who went on to praise the tech’s ability to monitor how much investment flows to charity or carbon-offsetting initiatives. 

    “The platform is completely aligned to our inclusion, diversity and sustainability agenda at Heineken and we cannot wait to continue working together,” added Hughes. 

    Content on WeAre8 is meant to be inspiring and free of hate speech — a test by Marketing Dive surfaced a lot of meditative nature videos — and consumed in small doses to avoid a time sink. Those who sign-up can select from a range of topics they’re interested in, such as animal welfare, the climate and poverty, which ladders up into WeAre8’s cause-oriented positioning. The app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store and is gold certified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. 

    The service taking an opt-in approach to ads could avoid frustrating consumers who’ve grown wary of online surveillance behaviors. The strategy also addresses shifting privacy policies that have impacted mobile campaign performance on competitor platforms. Other social media apps are contending with headwinds from Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework, which makes app-tracking opt-in by default and has seriously dented revenue

    Once registered, WeAre8 users receive push notifications asking them to watch two minutes of ads per day. Ads are delivered over the top by SAM-i so as to leave WeAre8’s organic content feed, called 8Stage, uninterrupted, and produce a small amount of cash per ad viewed (paid brand videos are not yet available on the U.S. version). 

    Consumers can keep the earnings, use them to pay off their phone bills or donate them to a charity. WeAre8’s larger goal is to distribute 50% of every dollar or pound spent on media back to users and 5% to charitable partners and carbon offsetting, layering in a sustainability angle.

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