This startup wants you to watch ads for a good cause. Really. - Baltimore


This startup wants you to watch ads for a good cause. Really.

It sounds weird, but there's an interesting incentive structure at play with AdWap.

Adwap's Sherrod Davis.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Ads are often slotted into the margins, before the things that we want to read or watch, or in the corners of our field of vision.

AdWap is a bit different. The startup is up front about what they’re asking (for you to watch ads), and in return they’re offering to put some of the ad money toward a good cause.

“We ask for five minutes and we convert that time into money,” said Sherrod Davis, the startup’s president of business development and partnerships.

In that five minutes, users are asked to watch 10 video ads on the AdWap app (there’s a built in way to confirm you watched it). In return, some of the revenue gets donated to a charity of the user’s choosing. The startup is offering further incentive by entering names into a daily cash giveaway.

The year-and-a-half-old startup is appealing to a pair of human desires: to give back, and to avoid watching ads. Plus there’s the desire to have something for yourself. For Davis, the altruistic side was the motivator.

“We wanted to do something that was positive,” he said. “I try to live by the mantra leave it better than you found it. I think this is a great way to be able to impact a wide variety of different causes.”

At the same time, there is an opportunity to address a pain point for advertisers, and give consumers more control over how they interact with advertising.

Davis described that side like this: “There are people spending billions of dollars on ads that a lot of folks don’t care about. There has to be a way to make this more of a win-win for everyone.” Since people are really watching the ads on AdWap, they can offer advertisers a higher level of engagement for their marketing spend, Davis said.

Following a soft-launch in December, the company formally launched the app in 2017. Like many consumer apps, the focus is on adding users. The team is looking to make college campuses one area of focus.

The company currently has four employees, with two in Baltimore including Davis. They are both members at Betamore, and have been tapping into the city’s adtech network. The other two are in Philly.

“We definitely want to grow here in the Mid-Atlantic,” Davis said.

People: Sherrod Davis
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