Deutsch Hacks Venmo to Raise Money for Clean Water and Hygiene

Deutsch worked with its pro bono client, WATERisLIFE to create the Venmo MicroHack to raise money for this charity whose mission is to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene programs to save lives and transform communities. Venmo is the most popular social payment app among millennials – and it doesn’t allow ads.

WATERisLIFE and Deutsch set out to show millennials just how easy donating money can be by hacking the app to include ads encouraging users to donate to WATERisLIFE. With not enough money for a large, traditional media buy, WATERisLIFE partnered with Deutsch to hack Venmo by turning 1,000 one-cent payments into individual ads that dominated their global news feed.

Launching on the fourth of July, Deutsch closely monitored Venmo’s public global news feed, identified what people were paying for, clicked their name, sent them a micro payment and then used the entire 2,000-character caption to create real-time targeted ads. People who were paying each other back for anything from a slice of pizza to a movie ticket received a micro payment with relatable captions such as, “1 cent can’t buy you pizza. But for just 3 cents, you can buy someone clean water for a day.” Ads were then automatically published to that person’s news feed for all their friends to see– and to Venmo’s global feed, allowing all app users to see it.

Over the 24-hour period, almost 1,000 people received the ads disguised as payment descriptions, costing the charity ONLY $10. And in true hacker fashion, WATERisLIFE has published all of the micro ads to their website, so that anyone can use them to infiltrate Venmo and spread the message for the charity.

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