How brands use action ads for immediate positive change: Poprule with Rob Kramer.


As you know I’m constantly exploring ways for brands to contribute to social change and I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Rob Kramer who has just launched an action technology platform that does just that.


SM:  How does Poprule work?  How does it use the semantic web to take cause marketing to the next level?

RK: Poprule is based on the premise that action is the new challenge and that we’re spending lots of time interacting with content and data online and yet, when we read a story, we don’t really know what to do after that.  Poprule is based on the thesis that “I’ve read the story now.  I can do something about it.”


SM: Immediately?

RK: Right then and there.  So I’ve read a story on Haiti, and I want to take some action, I want to volunteer, I want to donate, maybe take some advocacy type of action.  Now think of it like a mini-website that is contained within a standard online ad-unit or widget.  If it’s an ad-unit a brand can actually align with specific kind of action, social cause or political action and it can be distributed across the web wherever they buy their ad space.  Or it could be an earned-media type of widget.  So now you’ve read that story on Haiti, the Poprule ad unit is there (we call them action ads) and there are things you can do right then and there.


SM: What does the consumer see when they click on the widget?

RK: They can see everything from various organizations that are Haiti related, they can see IP detected volunteer opportunities within their community, they can see other advocacy oriented opportunities and there’s normally an organization involved.  Like International Medical Corp were one of the first responders in Haiti.  They can now partner with Starbucks, who can sponsor the distribution of this ad, so it shows up as IMC and Starbucks, and anytime there is a story on Haiti, wherever the action ad appears, someone has the ability to do something in the form of those types of action ads.


SM:  How does a brand work with you?

RK: Our relationships primarily are with ad agencies, brands, non-profits, and publishers and we’ve been introducing ourselves into the marketplace on a very personal level over the last couple of months.  We’re already working with Nissan, American Express, and some others.


SM:   What consumers want is accountability in terms of transparency as in what proportion of their dollars and their actions actually goes to the cause itself?

RK:  Metrics are a very important key part of this.  There’s a feedback rule.  We’re always tracking the data, the actions people take, and we’re very transparent about it.  We feed it back immediately.  So let’s say there’s a petition to pass climate change legislation; we now know how many people in real-time participated in that petition.  We might have an organization like Global Green in Los Angeles who is very involved in climate change events and activities so we want to know what they’re doing.  Well, I can see in this unit specific information related to administrative costs, where they are working in New Orleans to help rebuild New Orleans, where they are working in Haiti.  So the action ad platform is an opportunity to feed back that information in real-time based on all these decentralized data-bases that we pull from.

I think Poprule if at the forefront of a new breed of social entrepreneurs leveraging technology to transform the social change space. Edward Norton is another who launched Crowdrise this week, a fundraising platform that takes what worked for their initiatives and makes it avialbale to everyone. Then there’s the dynamic living cause lab by and the scalable networked approach of KaBOOM! It’s this creativity, geneorsity of spirit and open-heartedness that can fundamentally change the amount of impact all our efforts have on the ground to improve the lives of others.

I hugely encouraged, excited and optimistic about the future. Please fire away with any questions about Poprule and let me know if you’ve seen any other exciting examples.