While shuttered inside during COVID-19 lockdowns, maybe you turned to nature videos to soothe your pandemic anxiety and see some of the world beyond your couch. Now watching serene shots of ocean waves on your computer screen could also benefit the world’s oceans, and the environmental organizations trying to protect them—as long as you watch those nature videos through the new Preservation Play Youtube channel.
Digital innovation agency R/GA today launches Preservation Play, an initiative to bring new revenue from Youtube ads to environmental-focused nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. Nick Pringle, executive creative director at R/GA London, says the inspiration was twofold. First, throughout 2020 he saw how charities and NGOs were hit by the pandemic, with donations falling and government grants being diverted to COVID-19 relief efforts. It made sense, of course, to redirect that money, but for organizations like R/GA client Project Zero, which works to establish ocean sanctuaries that will provide climate change resiliency, “the issues that they deal with don’t go away,” he says.
Second, Pringle noticed that nature videos were racking up views online as people tried to find a way to relax through the tumult of 2020 (and beyond). “What we noticed is that as those people are putting out that content and accruing lots of views and therefore the [ad] revenue that comes with those views, where’s the money going? It’s not to the natural world that was featured,” he says. “That was where the light bulb moment was.”
Beginning July 1, ad revenue generated from the videos on the Preservation Play Youtube channel will go to environmental NGOs, starting with Project Zero. The videos were made specifically for the initiative and so will be owned entirely by the YouTube channel. They’ll feature bucolic nature scenes close to R/GA offices around the world, in locales including California, Brazil, and Australia.
Pringle hopes the launch of this initiative can be a call to get more NGOs involved; R/GA wants to bring in as many organizations as possible and have videos, he says, ready for “pretty much every conceivable aspect of the natural world.” Ad revenue will go straight to the participating NGOs, though the agency notes that a small portion may be used to buy AdWords and Discovery ads in order to promote the initiative.
Right now, there’s no end date to the Project Play initiative in mind. “We want it to grow and grow and grow,” Pringle says. In the future, he expects the agency will share some insights that come out of the initiative so that viewers can see the impact they and others are making just by playing a Youtube video of some crashing waves. “We’re not asking anyone to do anything different—do what you do, watch the video and relax, but do good at the same time,” he says. “Passive watching becomes active donating.”