DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion)

Industry In Progress: Unlocking The Power of Inclusive Advertising

Denya ChinqueeSenior Director, Audience Impact & Intelligence, Paramount Advertising

Michelle Green Manager, Audience Impact & Intelligence, Paramount Advertising

Representation in advertising is more complicated than ever with brands getting it wrong receiving strong backlash. Denya Chinquee and Michelle Green of Paramount Advertising discussed their latest study on on-screen representation, which evaluated the state of inclusivity in advertising, consumer expectations and effective advertising strategies. They used a multi-phase research approach using mobile ethnographies, in-depth interviews, semiotics, ad database analysis, foresight analysis and a nationally representative survey of over 3,500 consumers. They also went beyond race and ethnicity to include Native/Indigenous people and people who identify as LGBTQ+, differently abled, neurodiverse and those who belong to religious minorities, such as Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. This research helped create The Content for Change Ad Toolkit, which provides guidelines for marketers to build up their inclusivity IQ. Key takeaways:
  • Representation matters in media: 85% of consumers agree that the way people are portrayed in entertainment influences perceptions about them in the real-world.
  • It’s also equally important in advertising: 73% of consumers say diversity, equality and inclusion is important in advertising.
  • The events of 2020 drove an increase in diverse representation; however, we are now seeing a decline in representation with Hispanic representation having the sharpest decline (9% in 2021 to 5% in 2022) even though Hispanics make up 20% of the total U.S. population.
  • Misrepresentation is worse than no representation, according to the majority of respondents. Negative stereotypes perpetuated by advertising impact how people of minority groups are seen by society.
  • Sixty-two percent of consumers are more likely to notice brands that represent people like them.
  • Inclusion drives purchase intent, loyalty and consumers’ willingness to pay more: 57% are more likely to buy from brands that represent people like them, 53% are more loyal to brands that represent people like them and 45% would pay more for a brand that is embracing inclusivity with their ads.
  • Inclusivity isn’t one size fits all. Consumers want storytelling that is of universal or omnicultural experiences to more unique or divergent representations.

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Attitudes Towards Inclusivity in Advertising: A Twelve Country Study

Steven MillmanGlobal Head of Research & Data Science, Dynata

Steven Millman of Dynata shared key findings from Dynata’s global research on attitudes towards inclusivity in advertising and why that matters. The online survey was conducted across 12 countries (U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, China, Japan, Australia and Brazil) with a representative sample of 18+ adults and a total of 12,043 respondents. The survey examined attitudes and feelings of various minority groups (including LGBTQIA+, women, seniors, people with disabilities). Race was only considered for the U.S. sample, as race couldn’t be asked in certain countries or it was challenging to get sufficient diverse samples by race in non-U.S. countries. Overall, the study found that members of minority groups generally feel somewhat less authentically represented in advertising than do others. With the exception of racial minorities in the U.S., marginalized groups also tend to feel less satisfied by their portrayals in advertising. The presentation also delved into cross-country trends and differences, as well as a deeper dive into the impact of political affiliations and gender on attitudes and purchase intent in the U.S. along issues of inclusivity and diversity. Key takeaways:
  • Across countries, members of minority groups generally feel somewhat less authentically represented in advertising than do others. However, most people do not across the board.
  • Marginalized groups, especially LGBTQ+, are also less likely to be satisfied by their portrayals in advertising. The only exception was underrepresented racial group in the U.S.
  • In general, people think inclusivity in advertising is important, especially among younger groups. However, the exception was seniors, who only ranked portrayals of people over 65 as highly important.
  • Portrayals of equal representation of women and men and people with disabilities ranked the highest in importance across different age demos.
  • Portrayals of the LGBTQIA+ community ranked the lowest in term of importance across all age groups, and the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ was important to less than half of non-LGBTQIA+ respondents.
  • The majority felt that we are going in the right direction in terms of whether things are getting better or worse with respect to inclusivity in advertising. This satisfaction was overall lower in the U.S., similarly between racial and non-racial minorities.
  • In the U.S., Democratic men were much more likely than Republican or Independent men to say that they would be more likely to purchase from inclusive advertisers. There were similar differences among women along party lines, but the gaps were much closer.
  • Among countries, Brazil reported the importance of the portrayals of marginalized groups as the highest.

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Intent and Impact: A New Measurement for DEI

James Ambalathukal Director, Strategy & Insights, Magid

Mike Bloxham EVP, Global Media & Entertainment, Magid

Mike Bloxham and James Ambalathukal of Magid partnered with twelve networks and streaming services in a study to identify factors of cultural authenticity in drama, comedy and unscripted programs. With research into the creative elements that resonate with diverse populations from qualitative studies and online surveys, Mike and James described the importance of authenticity in how audiences relate to emotional content, how they see themselves in the content and ultimately, how they perceive the content itself. The various levels of signals that diverse audiences assess as good or bad representation include storytelling components and physical production elements, which help separate out what drives positive and negative perceptions of these shows for actionable results. Key takeaways:
  • There are different levels of expectations with different genres. Sitcoms and reality content without representation can connect to audiences if relatable character journeys and storylines are present. Projecting family and community values goes far. In dramas, applying specificity and non-verbal cultural details on the set or in a character, like authentic hair and wardrobe, even if not part of the narrative, is a driver of authentic representation. Other kinds of content like adult animated shows, news programming and sports are not viewed through a DEI lens.
  • Marginalized communities value representation but don’t want to be reduced to just the racial and ethnic parts of their identity.
  • Effective representation is strongly connected to perceptions of authenticity.
  • Authenticity isn’t just a preference; it has real impact on content engagement.
  • Story elements influencing perceptions of authenticity share similarities and differences across various cohorts.

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Top Topics at AxS 2024

Our analysis of the presentations during this year’s AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference shows which issues are marketers’ current priorities. 

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Insights from ARF Councils

ARF Councils have issued reports that provide unique insights on important issues, such as optimal terminology for how to reach diverse audiences and cross-platform measurement. Read more »

Retail Media Networks, Generative AI Top JAR’s Industry-Informed Research Priorities

  • JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH

Retail media networks, generative AI across creative, market research and trust, ad effectiveness and attention: These are among the topics highlighted on the Journal of Advertising Research’s list of 2024 research priorities. The list is a result of one-on-one interviews with advertising professionals by Editor-in-Chief Colin Campbell, who asked: "What are your biggest needs and challenges?"

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Political Opinions Drive Media Perceptions

Research by Ipsos reveals that political party affiliation is an important driver of most Americans’ views about movies and TV – leading to the stunning finding that Black Americans are now more likely to say they see “people like me” in entertainment than White Americans.

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Inside the Journal of Advertising Research: Sonic Branding, ASMR Engagement, and Who Wins in Activist Messaging?

  • JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH

At this Insights Studio, researchers in Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. presented work in relatively new fields that have high-impact potential for the advertising industry. Starting with a forthcoming paper on sonic branding, the authors described their ground-breaking framework for measuring the implicit effects of sonic branding using music to manipulate visual scenes in video, film and TV. Next, a deep dive into autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)—a sensory-inducing device in ads—included strategies for helping brands collaborate with successful ASMR influencers. Lastly, a preview of an article to be published in the March Prosocial Advertising Special Issue showed how brand activism influences attitudes and purchase intentions, revealing a credibility gap between established activist brands and brands emerging in that space. Taking questions from Paul and from attendees, panelists in the concluding Q&A explored links between sonic branding and ASMR, the demographics of ASMR followers, ways for emergent activist brands to close the credibility gap with established activist brands, and future research possibilities.

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A Guide to Diverse & Inclusive Terminology, Including Definitions and Best Practices

  • Cultural Effectiveness Council

How can we more effectively understand and communicate with the diverse audiences of 21st century America? The ARF Cultural Effectiveness Council has created a guide to help accomplish this. It contains the latest information about diversity and inclusive terminology—an ever-evolving subject—specific definitions and best practices. This guide helps researchers and media and marketing professionals to recognize and understand preferred terms that are used to identify members of these audiences, to show proper respect and connect with them more effectively.

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