Demanding Diversity: Why the Media Industry Needs it Now More Than Ever
As an Asian American, I was deeply impacted by the increased crime against the Asian community at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused me to reevaluate much of my day to day—both personal and professional—from the books and toys I was giving my children to the media and content I was consuming. What stood out was the lack of diversity amongst all of them.
This is not surprising. Over the past two years, the world has seen an uprising against social injustice, from the Black Lives Matter movement to #StopAsianHate. These movements against social injustice have brought to the forefront of the conversation the lack of diversity that exists in the media. In fact, according to a recent survey our team put together, 60% of consumers would feel more positive about a brand knowing they advertised in inclusive and diverse environments.
This shows the clear need for diversity in the media industry. Consumers have become hyper aware of what values their favorite brands hold, and are much more socially conscious than ever before. And, like me, most of us are taking a hard look within, which is manifesting itself in what today’s consumers want, need and prefer to align with.
A study by Facebook IQ found that 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising, however, 54% do not feel culturally represented in online advertising. So how can the media industry step up and support diverse communities in the right way, without looking like a tick box exercise?
Why Diversity in Media Matters
For starters, in its annual diversity report, UCLA has estimated that the minority share of the U.S. population is growing by nearly half a percent each year. This shows the growing need for the media industry to prioritize diversity in their content. Without inclusivity, advertisers are missing the mark with a huge proportion of the population. Not only do brands and marketers risk alienating pools of potential audiences, but there is a larger role for our industry to play in the future of DE&I.
Media can be used as a force for good, propelling the industry forward and showing younger generations that representation matters. Diversity can bring new stories to the table, allowing younger generations to see minority creators as role models, especially those that don’t see media professionals that look like themselves. Content is a powerful medium in helping brands reach and engage with consumers, with more than a billion hours of content being consumed on YouTube each day. The industry has a responsibility to ensure this is being done inclusively.
Partnering with Diverse Creators
Creating a safe space within the media industry for minority creators can lead to a better media landscape, with varied viewpoints. In 2021, film casts that were of at least 21% minority representation had the highest online viewing ratings among all racial groups aged 18-49. This study shows that minority groups are putting diverse content first. However, the same report showed that only 1.5 out of 10 show creators and 3.1 out of 10 lead actors in scripted TV are people of color. The demand for diverse media is present, but the industry is struggling to meet that demand.
Partnering with diverse creators can push their ideas and stories to the forefront, allowing for more diverse content and representation in the industry. For example, Mastercard and Channel Factory recently executed a campaign, finding creators across the globe and working with them directly to create content around Mastercard's pillars. The team used inclusive inclusion lists, featuring diverse content creators for ads to be run alongside their content, promoting inclusivity and positivity, alleviating bias throughout the industry. It is vital that we are not only open to ideas, but acting on them and putting ad spend towards diverse creators, looking to them as experts in representation.
Committing to Socially Conscious Causes
Consumers prefer to support brands that support causes they hold important to themselves. In a survey conducted by Channel Factory earlier this year, 69% of consumers would prefer to buy from brands committed to socially conscious causes such as donating to charities or taking a stand on climate change. It is important for brands to take a stance on social injustices and "hot topic" issues—from BLM to climate change—to appeal to their consumers.
A balanced approach to inclusivity is crucial to the success of advertising campaigns in future. Looking forward, the media industry will need to create a new "norm" where diversity is key to connecting with all groups and where all people and stories are represented. However, this will need to be done with authenticity. For brand marketers and advertisers looking to grow with the industry, now is the time to re-evaluate core values and prioritize diversity in your creative, content, targeting, and overall strategy.
[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Channel Factory. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]
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