Diversity Marketing – the true way to be relevant to your customers

Published: May 25, 2023

min read

Black-owned media company executives had some very interesting points that they raised during the Ad Age’s State of TV Advertising conference. They talked in particular about the DE&I market.

At a time when media ad dollars increasingly favor programmatic platforms, Revolt – the Black-owned media company does not allow programmatic buying for its content. Their CEO Detavio Samuels said that his company asks brands to connect directly with them so they are able to fully understand the company’s opportunities to tailor messages exclusively for Black audiences.

What we never wanted to do was build [programmatic] pipes, allow brands to pop in, spend a thousand dollars and then tout and brag about how they were spending with Black-owned media or spending with Revolt when it wasn’t a real commitment. We see programmatic as an opportunity for brands to get away with performative activism.

Detavio Samuels,

CEO Revolt.

Ad Age has recently discovered that while overall ad spend in the diversity market went up in the past year, investments in Black-owned media made up only 1.16% of the total ad ecosystem measured by the Standard Media Index.

Large media companies might encourage marketers to automate buys across their full assets portfolio. But not all media companies allow it or find it an ideal way to do things. And when the investment goes through programmatic platforms, media partners don’t have much idea of who is spending and how.

ReachTV, the airport TV network handles it by insisting all programmatic transactions go through private marketplaces (PMP) where the publisher controls the inventory being sold to a chosen group of advertisers.

In a PMP, you can control that entire environment, you can actually bring the brand in—we actually picked the creative that went in that made sense for our audience. And then we turned [programmatic] off with pricing and structures and everything around it.

Lynnwood A. Bibbens,

Founder and CEO of ReachTV

The CEO of Pod Digital Media, Gary Coichy, feels that direct investment where brands can talk about opportunities and strike long-term deals with media partners is ideal. This way, it helps to not only boost the individual campaign but the offering of the media company as a whole.

The uncertain economic conditions and the fear of a recession has caused fear in some who feel that smaller budgets could shrink the already-fractional dollars set aside for DE&I investment.

On the positive side, several big media companies have increased the number of initiatives built around diverse productions, talent and audiences. There are large companies like Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery who have exclusive teams to steer conversations about inclusion in ad deals, diverse production staffing and including content representatives of multicultural audiences.

Rita Ferro, president of advertising at Disney has said that Disney plans to invest $1 billion invested in DE&I content and initiatives by 2025, and that every deal struck with Disney includes some diverse investment. They have announced tie-ups with Group Black, Equal Pride, etc. for creating branded content this year.

What must brands do?

Diversity marketing is not something that can be taken lightly any longer. Earlier, one could kind of avoid the complications or the critical thinking that was needed to be inclusive – as, let’s face it, audiences didn’t really expect it from brands or insisted that they reflect it in their ethos.

But that has changed. It might even be said that while there was a call for inclusivity among brands and their messaging, the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was a turning point. Black Lives Matter. In everything. From a reflection in the choice of people that appear in an ad campaign or the culturally relevant messaging to content being produced by Black-owned Media Company, black lives matter.

Brands must realize that diversity marketing is not a subset of marketing – it is not something like content marketing or digital marketing or similar. On the contrary, it is a mindset that can influence and drive every aspect of your marketing.

As was mentioned, “Performative activism” just won’t cut it any longer.

Brands must be essentially conscious of this. Black-owned media companies know firsthand the ethos of the Black community. They understand and know what will resonate with a Black audience.

Increasingly, and its only growing and growing, Millennials and Gen Z feel and very strongly believe that everything must be inclusive for all audiences. They even go as far as rejecting several old traditional advertising tactics like narrowing to a specific audience which excludes ethnicities and cultural differences and genders and religious beliefs.

So if brands want to show that they are all about diversity and inclusion, they must go all the way.

Performative activism won’t work.


Pete Johnson

Pete is a MarTech expert guru with a knack for getting diverse MarTech solutions work for brands. He has a wealth of experience in working with a plethora of MarTech platforms that dive Personalized Omnichannel Experiences. When he's not at work, you can find him playing basketball or listening to jazz.


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