A call for conscious advertising in the digital age

From the 'Era of Exclusion' to 'Era of Inclusion'

The world of online advertising has presented endless opportunities for advertisers to reach and engage with their target audiences. There is an increasing need for transparency and safety in the media ecosystem, prompting advertisers towards being more ethical and seeking out more purposeful opportunities with content providers. At its core, advertisers are striving to create an environment that is inclusive but also supports diverse creators and their audiences. However, the issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the industry has become increasingly highlighted, and many times, the best intentions can lead to an ecosystem lacking in DE&I.

As many creators and their audiences demand greater accountability from advertisers, this has caused a shift in how advertisers approach media buying, with an emphasis on authenticity and purposeful partnerships. It’s not enough to ‘intend’ to support diverse creators, and too often, there is a gap between good intentions and reality when ROI is a priority.

As leaders in the industry, it is our responsibility to address the constraints that limit our ability to support diverse creators and their audiences.

Moving beyond restrictive block lists in advertising

While the rise in investment and funding opportunities to support diverse start-ups is on the rise, it’s time for a widespread reassessment of what we consider brand safe. As of 2020, Statista found that YouTube now sees 500 hours of video content uploaded every minute and we’ve seen the proliferation of media outlets and brand new environments for advertisers and brands to connect with consumers.

With many companies utilising block lists to prevent their ads from appearing alongside controversial or sensitive content, there has been growing concern that this approach is limiting the reach of diverse voices and perspectives. In response, we are calling for a shift towards inclusion lists, which prioritise platforms and content that amplify diverse voices and ensure they receive the attention and funding they deserve.

The three ages: chaos, cautious and conscious

The digital revolution has caused chaos in advertising, with an abundance of video content leading to issues such as viewability, fraud, and data privacy. The industry is calling for more transparency and control to identify where digital spend is going and measure success.

The digital advertising industry has undergone a major shift towards caution, introducing new controls and standards to clean up the industry. However, the over-reliance on blocklists and exclusions has had unintended consequences, with certain marginalised communities unable to monetise their content. To illustrate this point, one study done by Cheq showed that on average 70+% LGBTQ creators were blocked from being funded by ad dollars. Because they used words in their videos such as gay, lesbian, trans etc, words that were blocked by most major brands and agencies, these creators were not able to see revenue to their content from ads.

The industry has reached a critical point, and calls for a new era of advertising that is more conscious. This means creating safe spaces for content creators by developing transparent policies, providing relevant data insights and helping to educate brands and agencies on the value of inclusivity.

At Channel Factory, we are committed to creating an ecosystem with all consumers, content creators and platforms in mind. It’s important to adopt a multi-faceted response that starts with us being conscious first. But, our technology must also adapt to fix the inherent biases — a necessary step for commercial longevity in an increasingly globalised society. We’re committed to driving this change forward, and inspiring the industry to join us in the much-needed shift from the Era of Exclusion to the Era of Inclusion.

Featured image: Shann Daniels / Diversifylens

Rob Blake

Rob Blake MD, UK & IrelandOur UK MD Rob Blake brings almost two decades of experience driving revenue in leadership roles for companies such as AOL, Advertising.com, Rocket Fuel and MediaMath. At Channel Factory Rob is responsible for driving growth across the British and Irish markets. Born and raised in London, Rob is a whizz in the kitchen and an ardent supporter of the mighty Chelsea Football Club.

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