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Overcoming the Diversity Gap in Mobile Gaming

Chloé GingrichGlobal Insights Strategist, Gaming & eCommerce, Meta Stephen GrayVertical Research Manager, Meta

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile gamers surveyed felt more connected and immersed in gameplay with characters that represented them or people like them.
  • The gap between mobile gamers’ desire for diversity and their actual gaming experience reflected that less than 40% of gamers felt represented by gaming characters.
  • Make gaming inclusive from development through to execution. Bake diversity in throughout the entire process of developing and marketing a game to show an integrated commitment to inclusion—never try to add diverse representation to a game as an afterthought or in an ad.
  • Promoting diversity should go hand in hand with safety in virtual spaces.
  • Avoid all stereotypes that include hypersexualization of women and hypermasculinity in character design.
  • Don’t use advertising to imply that the game is more inclusive than it is. The most effective ads should showcase exciting aspects of gameplay, as well as meaningful nuanced representation.

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Interpreting Survey Responses

Data from a recent Gallup survey remind us that responses from survey participants need to be interpreted carefully, as they are impacted by culture and respondents’ willingness to talk about certain topics. Case in point: Reported identification as LGBT appears less related to actual sexual orientation than to age. Gallup asks Americans whether they personally identify as straight or heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, as part of the demographic information it collects on all US telephone surveys. Here are results based on aggregated 2021 data, via interviews with over 12,000 adults. Gallup concludes that the “increase in LGBT identification in recent years largely reflects the higher prevalence of such identities among the youngest U.S. adults compared with older generations…. “Since Gallup began measuring LGBT identification in 2012, the percentage of traditionalists, baby boomers and Gen X adults who identify as LGBT has held relatively steady…The percentage of Gen Z who are LGBT has nearly doubled since 2017.” One might add that these findings also reveal a lot about generational differences in discussing “private” behaviors. Source: Jones, J. M. (2022, February 17). LGBT Identification in U.S. Ticks Up to 7.1%. Gallup.

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NYCU: The ANA's LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion

A new report by the ANA looks at the state of LGBTQ+ representation among client-side marketer members. The report is the first of its kind from the ANA and shows positive overall movement toward greater LGBTQ+ marketing inclusion in the advertising industry. It is based on a survey focused on LGBTQ+ representation in creative, targeted LGBTQ+ media vs. non-targeted campaigns, the timing of the campaigns, the benefits and challenges of inclusive marketing, overall industry support, and campaign measurement. A few highlights:

  • Half of the respondents indicated that they ran ads in the past year featuring identifiable LGBTQ+ casting.
  • Forty percent of respondents have actively marketed to the LGBTQ+ community via targeted LGBTQ+ media for at least one brand over the past year. Almost all of those marketing to the LGBTQ+ community via targeted LGBTQ+ media do so year-round.
  • Brand awareness and brand perception were cited as the most important key performance indicators of success when measuring LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing.
  • The three biggest challenges to LGBTQ+ inclusive marketing cited were: a general concern of getting it wrong (50 percent), making sure the messaging appears in brand-safe environments (44 percent) and budget limitations (44 percent).
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents said they believe their employer is very or somewhat LGBTQ+-supportive.
The ANA points out that this work is an important initiative for the Society and Sustainability priority, and the Talent and Marketing Organization priority of the ANA Growth Agenda, which provides a guide for the industry to leverage marketing as a sustainable growth driver. As more brands enter public conversations on societal movements, the ANA wants to show how to authentically support the LGBTQ+ community through marketing campaigns. Source: ANA. (2021, December 13). LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Report. Marketing Knowledge Center; MKC Content: Research Studies/Research Reports, ANA (Association of National Advertisers).  

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NYCU: Brands and LGBTQ+ Consumers

Pride month is becoming more important for brands in the US. Here are two articles addressing the relationship between brands and the diverse LGBTQ+ community. First, data from a survey by Morning Consult. June has been recognized as Pride Month in the United States for decades, and this year, brands are celebrating en masse. But, as per usual, when it comes to corporate America’s embrace of social and political topics, many consumers are expressing skepticism about companies’ motivations, according to a new survey from Morning Consult.   Nonetheless, many brands are selling rainbow-themed merchandise this month and working to convince consumers that their efforts are more than marketing stunts. “Over the past few years, there’s been an explosion in Pride campaigns, but we’re also seeing more and more that the LGBTQ community is holding brands responsible for how they approach their Pride campaigns,” said Spencer Harvey, Communications Manager at GLAAD. “Visibility is great, but nowadays, it’s about how your campaign is stepping up and showing that you support the community.” In fact, companies that can’t credibly claim their Pride campaigns are authentic might be better off doing nothing at all.  “If it’s not who you are as a brand, just stay away,” said Jim Joseph, President of North America for McCann Health.  “If it’s not important to your audience or employees, don’t force fit it, because that comes across immediately.” However, for companies that do support equal rights, regardless of gender or sexuality, Pride initiatives can make many consumers see them in a more favorable light, according to the survey. Source: Meyers, A. (2021, June 10). For Pride Month, Lip Service and Rainbow Merch Alone Won’t Convince Consumers of Brands’ Best Intentions. Morning Consult.

Adweek Report: How Brands Are Giving Back to LGBTQ+ Communities. “Let’s be honest: Most major brands haven’t maintained a consistent-enough relationship with LGBTQ+ communities to survive Pride Month without some level of scrutiny. More often than not, rainbow washing—the act of deploying Pride-themed versions of their products and marketing without substantially engaging queer communities—tends to be the minimal-effort route that too many brands take. The majority of consumers recognize these attempts as inauthentic almost immediately. But it’s never too late to start developing real bonds with queer consumers. One of the most effective ways to show support is through charitable efforts, and Pride offers brands ample opportunity to turn their specialized products into support that resonates beyond June. What’s more, the communities at the center of it all are paying serious attention: According to recent analysis, queer consumers are more likely than other marginalized groups to actively seek and patronize the companies that are engaging their collective community in sustained ways.” Editor’s Note: You can look at the work provided by a number of brands, including SodaStream, Shopify and 1-800-Flowers. Source: Miller, S. (2021, June 3). Here's How Brands Are Giving Back to LGBTQ+ Communities for Pride Month 2021. AdWeek. (Only AdWeek subscribers can read the full article)

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NYCU: The LGBTQ+ Community and Social Media Sites

Perspectives from GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and five leading social media companies.   Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube — are all "categorically unsafe" for LGBTQ+ people, according to a new study from GLAAD. The report from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, lays out recommendations for all platforms, in addition to suggestions specific to each service. The broad recommendations include everything from tweaking algorithms to slow down the spread of misinformation, to hiring more human moderators to better enforcing existing harassment and discrimination policies. "There are real world consequences to what happens online," Ellis said. "There are direct lines you can draw between the over 100 anti-trans bills that are now circulating at the state (level) and what's being produced and pushed out within the social media world. I think that there are direct lines to, unfortunately, suicides of our community." Ellis noted that the online world, including social media, can still be an important gathering place for LGBTQ+ people. The report also gives a “thumbs up” for various things that GLAAD believes are positive steps, including Twitter’s rules against dehumanizing, including intentionally misgendering transgender people. “There are bright spots, there are absolutely bright spots,” Ellis said. “However, the challenge right now is that the negative is outweighing the positive." Here's what each of the social media platforms had to say in response to the report. Facebook/Instagram: "We believe deeply in the representation of and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community that GLAAD champions," CMO Alex Schultz said in a statement to Axios. "Finding the right balance between giving voice and taking action on harmful content is hard. This is why we partner with experts, non-profits and other stakeholders - like GLAAD - to try to get it right." YouTube: "Over the last few years, we’ve made significant progress in our ability to quickly remove hateful and harassing content against the LGBTQ+ community that violates our policies, prominently surface content in search results and recommendations from authoritative sources and limit the spread of extreme content by our recommendations," the Google-owned video site said in a statement to Axios. "This work is ongoing and we appreciate the thoughtful feedback from GLAAD." Twitter: "We welcome GLAAD’s initiative and the opportunity to better understand the experiences and needs of the LGBTQ+ communities on our service," Twitter said in a statement to Axios. "We’ve engaged with GLAAD to better understand their requests and are committed to an open dialogue to better inform our work to support LGBTQ safety." TikTok: "TikTok is committed to supporting and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices on and off the platform and we care deeply about fostering a welcoming and supportive experience for everyone," TikTok said in a statement to Axios. "We share GLAAD's dedication to the safety of the LGBTQ+ community and will continue working with GLAAD and other LGBTQ+ organizations to help inform and strengthen our work." Source: Fried, I. (2021, May 10). GLAAD finds top social media sites "categorically unsafe." Axios.

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NYCU: New Nielsen Data on Diversity & Inclusion in TV

Nielsen launched Gracenote Inclusion Analytics to deliver, "visibility into the gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of talent appearing in TV programming and the audiences watching it."

The initiative combines entertainment metadata with Nielsen's audience measurement data. It is designed to equip content creators, owners, distributors and advertisers with data around onscreen diversity and representation, to enable more inclusive content. "The entertainment industry has a massive challenge ahead—to ensure the talent associated with popular TV programming mirrors today's increasingly diverse viewing audiences," said Sandra Sims-Williams, Nielsen's SVP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. "By democratizing information around representation in content, Gracenote Inclusion Analytics holds the power to push the industry toward better balance and a more equitable future." The data suite will also offer clients insights about on-camera talent appearing in popular broadcast, cable and SVOD TV programs. The metrics will look at Share of Screen (SOS), which quantifies an identity group's representation on-screen among the top recurring talent—such as women, Black and LGBTQ+ actors and actresses. The "Inclusion Opportunity Index" compares the share of screen metric to the identity group's representation in population estimates. The 'Inclusion Audience Index" compares the SOS for a group to their representation in the program's viewing audience. That information, Nielsen said, could assist distributors in highlighting content in their catalog to feature, for example, diverse female leads for Women's History Month. Or a studio can use the tool to evaluate whether its content meets diversity, equity and inclusion benchmarks set by Nielsen to highlight programs for licensing opportunities. Read the Full Article

Source: Saad, N. (2021, February 17). Ratings Firm Nielsen Begins Tracking Diversity And Inclusion In TVLos Angeles Times.

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Building Brand Loyalty with Today’s Audience –The Pivotal Role of Representation (Event Summary)


The fourth installment of the ARF Cultural Effectiveness Council’s virtual event series focused on why representation is important. This event provided insights on culture, values and identification that need to be considered in order to achieve meaningful representation of the 21st century US population in advertising. This includes communities that are often overlooked--those within the broader ethnic, LGBTQIA and disabled communities. Editor’s Note: The full summary is available to members only.

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Appeal Predicts Gay Inclusive-Ad Outcomes

  • Bradley J. Bond and Justine Rapp Farrell (both at University of San Diego)

When gay couples are featured in an ad, advertising appeal can be more important than sexual orientation in predicting consumer behavior—specifically with intentions to purchase and recommend a brand or product—according to research at the University of San Diego.

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