Achieving Advertising Equity: Empowering Black-Owned Media

Achieving Advertising Equity: Empowering Black-Owned Media

Written by Don Brown 

In a recent AdAge article, the increase in ad spend within black-owned media outlets is recognized as a step toward fostering diversity and inclusivity. However, the current levels of investment still pale in comparison to “general” or white-owned media. To address this disparity, a proactive role must be assumed by black CMOs and brand side leaders to emphasize the importance of spending with black-owned media. Misconceptions about their readiness and safety should be addressed, and brands should invest in emerging black media brands. Additionally, flexibility in media partnerships and a shift in perception are both crucial to achieving meaningful progress.


The Growth of Ad Spend in Black-Owned Media:

The AdAge article highlights the increase in ad spending (over 50% from last year) in black-owned media platforms, representing progress in recognizing their value and reach. This positive trend signifies a growing commitment to inclusivity as brands acknowledge the importance of engaging diverse audiences and allocating their ad budgets accordingly. Although there’s still a significant way to go in terms of achieving true equity in this space, this type of increase can’t be treated lightly and is an overall sign of progress. 


Empowering Black CMOs and Brand Leaders:

Black CMOs and brand leaders play a vital role in driving change and advocating for increased investment in black-owned media. They must assert the significance of supporting these platforms and emphasize the unique value and perspectives they offer. By leveraging their influence within the industry, they can ensure that advertising dollars are allocated more equitably.


Dispelling Misconceptions and Embracing Flexibility:

Addressing misconceptions about the readiness and “safety” of black-owned media is crucial. Internal discussions and education should challenge biases, fostering an inclusive mindset that recognizes the untapped potential and impact of these platforms. Brands should also exhibit flexibility in their media partnerships, exploring a wide range of creators, agencies, and platforms to effectively reach diverse audiences.


Investment in Emerging Black Media Brands:

Private equity, venture capital, and brands themselves have an opportunity to invest in the growth and development of emerging black media brands. Although these platforms may not be structurally perfect initially, collaboration and investment can equip them to handle a high volume of brand deals at industry standards. By nurturing these platforms, brands can cultivate a new generation of black media outlets that offer unique perspectives and reach untapped audiences. There is also huge potential for brands to assist in the growth of black-owned media outlets by allocating long-term budget commitments which will provide the stability needed for growth. 


Customized Solutions Beyond Programmatic Ad Buys

While programmatic ad buys are part of the advertising mix, they alone cannot solve the issue of equity in black-owned media. A more integrated and customized approach is needed to allow brands to build long-term, successful relationships with Black-owned media outlets and agencies. There needs to be a cohesive investment in the black-owned marketing ecosystem including legacy media outlets, creative agencies, media agencies, creators and emerging outlets. One of the media executives who spoke with AdAge was quoted as saying, “We have some partners that said no to programmatic, and we respect their decision. … But I want to be clear that they’re losing here. They’re leaving some money on the table that somebody else is going to take.” 

Resistance to programmatic buys from black media owners should definitely be addressed, but it’s imperative for brand marketers and agencies to explore a wider variety of options in terms of their black-owned media partners. Are they truly scanning the full inventory that they could have access to? In summary, simply because one or two black-owned media outlets express resistance to programmatic buys should not mean that that money immediately escapes the entire black-owned media landscape.


While progress has been made in ad spending on black-owned media, there is still a significant disparity compared to more established white-owned media outlets. Achieving advertising equity requires a multifaceted approach. Black CMOs and brand leaders must actively advocate for increased investment while dispelling misconceptions and embracing flexibility in media partnerships. Brands should invest in emerging black media brands and adopt integrated, customized solutions beyond programmatic ad buys. In doing so, the industry can work toward achieving a more equitable and inclusive advertising landscape.